Tuesday July 16, 2019
Home Lead Story Cambodia&#821...

Cambodia’s Interior Minister Claims, Loses EU Trade Preferences Will Create Economic Hardship

The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which is banned in Cambodia but has regrouped and is active outside the country, would support Sar Kheng, who also serves as Cambodia’s deputy prime minister, if he were to stage a coup, Sam Rainsy said.

0
//
Cambodia
Cambodian interior minister and deputy prime minister Sar Kheng is shown in a file photo. RFA

Cambodia will face severe economic hardship if the European Union proceeds with threatened plans to suspend beneficial trade preferences, Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Monday, calling the expected move a matter of “regret.”

Speaking at a ceremony for retired civil service workers, police officers, and veterans with disabilities in the provincial town of Battambang, Sar Kheng rejected European demands for greater political freedom in the Southeast Asian country.

Such demands infringe on Cambodia’s sovereignty and independence, he said.

“We can ultimately rely on only one thing, and that is making our own efforts,” Sar Kheng said. “As long as we depend on others, we will not be working at our full strength.”

“Whether the EU suspends these [trade preferences] or not is up to them. But we would welcome it if they don’t. We would be happy and grateful to them,” he said.

woring people
“They create jobs and opportunities, generate income for workers, and reduce poverty for our residents. If these are suspended, this will surely affect investment mechanisms to some extent.” Pixabay

The EU decided in February to launch a six-month monitoring period to determine whether Cambodian exports should continue to enjoy tax-free entry into the European market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

The EU trade measure, and a similar one proposed by the U.S. Congress, was motivated by the September 2017 arrest of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha, as well as a wider crackdown on media and civil society.

Kem Sokha’s arrest, and a decision by the Supreme Court to dissolve the CNRP two months later, paved the way for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) to win all 125 seats in parliament in a July 2018 general election that was widely seen as unfree and unfair.

Sar Kheng was one of a group of three top Cambodian officials, including Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and Trade Minister Pan Sorasak, who met on March 19-20 to open a dialogue with an EU delegation led by European Action Service (EEAS) deputy managing director of Asia & The Pacific Paola Pampaloni.

‘Done taking orders’

Speaking on March 29 at a three-hour forum in the capital Phnom Penh, Hun Sen told civil servants, members of the private sector, and diplomats including the EU Ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, that Cambodia is “fed up” with demands from foreigners about how to run the country.

“Cambodia is done taking orders—foreigners tell us to do things and if we decline, they threaten to impose taxes,” he said.

The Cambodian government and the EU should now hold further talks to find common ground and avoid losses to the country’s garment industry, an independent trade union leader said on Monday.

Factory workers in Cambodia will be the first to suffer if trade preferences are suspended, Ath Thun—president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU)—told RFA’s Khmer Service.

facebook
Writing in a Facebook post on April 3, exiled acting opposition chief Sam Rainsy called on the country’s people to oust Hun Sen, who has now ruled Cambodia for more than three decades. RFA

“We are really concerned because the EBA [trade provisions] are crucial,” he said.

“They create jobs and opportunities, generate income for workers, and reduce poverty for our residents. If these are suspended, this will surely affect investment mechanisms to some extent.”

Call for ouster

Writing in a Facebook post on April 3, exiled acting opposition chief Sam Rainsy called on the country’s people to oust Hun Sen, who has now ruled Cambodia for more than three decades.

Also Read: Automobile Parts, Water Pumps, Diesel Power Generators And Electric Locks; Chinese Smugglers in North Korea Have Good Business

The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which is banned in Cambodia but has regrouped and is active outside the country, would support Sar Kheng, who also serves as Cambodia’s deputy prime minister, if he were to stage a coup, Sam Rainsy said.

Different visions for the country’s future now divide the prime minister and his deputy, Sam Rainsy said.

“We say that if [Sar Kheng’s followers] dare to topple Hun Sen, we will support them. They will not be isolated,” he said. (RFA)

Next Story

Haitians Who Lost Limbs in 2010 Quake Get Help from Disabled Workers

Wilfrid Macena was a welder who built gas station tanks for a living when the devastating 2010 earthquake toppled a wall

0
Workers, Haitians, Limbs
FILE - Amputee and prosthetic technician Wilfrid Macena leans against a tree in his yard as he looks at his smart phone, in Carrefour, Haiti, June 5, 2019. VOA

Wilfrid Macena was a welder who built gas station tanks for a living when the devastating 2010 earthquake toppled a wall at the garage where he worked and crushed his right leg.

He was unable to reach a hospital for seven days and his knee became infected, forcing doctors to amputate most of his leg. Several weeks later, he came to an institution run by Haiti’s Episcopal Church in downtown Port-au-Prince where a small group of disabled workers were fitting victims with prosthetics and received his first artificial leg.

“It’s like I got a brand new life,” he recalled, adding that one of the workers at St. Vincent’s Center convinced him to join their team, assuring him that it was similar to welding.

In July 2010, six months after the earthquake, he built his first prosthetic — a job that took him three days.

Workers, Haitians, Limbs
Prosthetic technician Wilfrid Macena works in a workshop at the St. Vincent’s Center, an institution run by Haiti’s Episcopal Church in downtown Port-au-Prince, June 4, 2019. VOA

Now, nine years and more than 3,000 prosthetics later, he’s still at it, and it takes only four hours. Most of those have gone to people like him who lost a limb in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake estimated to have killed 300,000 or more.

“We’re still seeing new patients,” he said, adding that an elderly woman who lost both legs in the earthquake recently came by the center. “She wants to move, go to church.”

The workers at St. Vincent’s Center were all taught by 60-year-old Emmanuel Celicourt, who is unable to speak and has been working at the center for decades. Overall, they have made some 8,000 prostheses since the quake, although now only about 15 percent of people seeking help are earthquake victims.

Macena said being an amputee helps him relate to patients and inspires confidence in them.

Also Read- Two Drug Trials May Promise Some Relief for People Who Suffer from Migraine Headaches

“People understand me better than someone who has two legs,” said Macena, who also is captain of a soccer team and has taught athletes how to play with crutches.

He recently tended to Natasha Guillaume, a 9-year-old girl who needed a brace after she was pushed at school, fell and injured her leg. He helped lift her onto a bed fitted with a sheet of faded yellow flowers as she grimaced.

“I was crying at night because of the pain,” she said, adding that she wants to be able to run again with her friends.

Workers, Haitians, Limbs
Technicians Cereste Cherisme, right, and Jules Emmanuel, chat during their shift at the workshop in St. Vincent’s Center in Port-au-Prince, May 22, 2019. VOA

The center first began providing prostheses in the 1950s, sometimes at no cost depending on the needs of a person, said the Rev. Frantz Cole, spiritual director of the center that operates a school for disabled children, a medical clinic and a brace shop where the prostheses are made.

Also Read- Apple Releases Silent Update for Mac Users to Fix Faulty Video Conferencing App

“We try to provide service mostly to those who have nothing,” he said. “When someone gets amputated, he thinks that is the end of his life. … But [a prosthesis] is like a new beginning for a patient.” (VOA)