Out of Cambodia: A 'Q' turns up with gadgets of peace

PHNOM PENH - There are many problems in Cambodia, and the 20,000 people working for the UN peace-keeping operation are only starting to realise how many they must overcome. The Khmer Rouge are trying to dictate terms in the planned elections; Phnom Penh government officials are lining their pockets as fast as they can; the murder rate in Phnom Penh has soared, with people being shot in the streets for their motorbikes; and epidemics of malaria and cholera are raging.

But in a marshy field in Takeo, about 40 miles south of Phnom Penh, Richard Hradsky-Fisher had a problem of a different nature. 'I suspect my polarisation is not perfect,' he shouted down a telephone, wiping sweat from his forehead. 'I'm fixing on Singapore, and I think they might have a cross-pole problem.'

He made an odd picture. Tall, bearded, his white shirt buttoned at the wrists, he was leaning against the doorway of a tiny shack built beside a few coconut trees. Inside, the floor was littered with empty beer-cans, tins of spaghetti with meatballs, tea-bags and packets of custard creams.

It was like a bedsit in Camden with tropical posters stuck over the windows. But behind him were 10 gleaming aluminium cases crammed with electronic equipment, and to the rear of the hut were four satellite dishes, pointing up into the ether. Like 'Q', the eccentric inventor who turns up in improbable locations in James Bond films to give 007 his latest gadgets, Mr Hradsky-Fisher seemed oblivious to the incongruity of the situation.

'I can give you one more DRB, but then you are on maximum power,' he shouted down the telephone again, holding a finger in his free ear to block out the sound of the diesel generator. On a low wooden platform in front of the hut, two Cambodian soldiers dozed in the afternoon heat, their AK-47 rifles hanging on a nail in the wall. They turned out to be the guards he had hired to protect his equipment - pounds 250,000-worth of television satellite-broadcasting hardware, installed in the middle of nowhere.

Mr Hradsky-Fisher works for Bright Star, a British company which supplies satellite links for TV companies 'anywhere in the world'. He had come to Cambodia under a two-week contract with a network in Japan, so that Japanese viewers could get live pictures of their troops arriving in Takeo, eating their first meal and settling into their tents.

Japan is very interested in these details, because it will be the first time in nearly 50 years that its soldiers have been stationed outside their own country, their last venture having left them with a major public relations problem. So several hundred Japanese journalists have arrived to cover this momentous event, and they are sparing no expense.

Mr Hradsky-Fisher would not be precise, but said his two-week contract was costing the network 'hundreds of thousands of pounds - it's not a cheap operation'. As well as the TV satellite link, he had a satellite telephone to co-ordinate the operation.

At the moment, he explained with his hand over the telephone receiver, he was trying to sort out an alignment problem with Tokyo, and the reference signal from Singapore seemed to be giving trouble. So was the English-language ability of his interlocutor in Tokyo. 'What do you mean by 'what is my situation'? Do you want latitude and longitude?' he asked, rolling his eyes in despair. 'Oh, you want to know what the weather is . . .'

Mr Hradsky-Fisher is the technical co-ordinator for the broadcasting link. He had brought an engineer with him from London as well. 'I do the exotic, or special trips,' he said. 'If something goes down here and I can't fix it, the whole thing is useless.'

'Boost carrier,' he said to his engineer as the latter fiddled with some nobs. Outside, a couple of water buffalo were stretching their necks over a rope around the satellite dishes, trying to sniff at the strange new additions to the scenery. They were shooed away. 'How do you receive me now?'

Near by, a few tents had already been put up by an advance team of Japanese soldiers. The main body arrives on Thursday, and Mr Hradsky-Fisher has to have the system working perfectly by then. 'This is the only way of getting pics out of the middle of nowhere fast,' he said.

A Japanese TV producer, wearing full combat fatigues and looking more battle-ready than the timid Japanese soldiers, appeared from nowhere and started asking about the satellite link. Mr Hradsky-Fisher was still talking to Tokyo about DRBs. There are many problems in Cambodia.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?