Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ASEAN integration concerns aired at grassroots event

ASEAN integration concerns aired at grassroots event

People sit and listen to speeches in Freedom Park yesterday during the fifth Cambodian Grassroots People’s Assembly.
People sit and listen to speeches in Freedom Park yesterday during the fifth Cambodian Grassroots People’s Assembly. Hong Menea

ASEAN integration concerns aired at grassroots event

Hundreds gathered yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park for the fifth Cambodian Grassroots People’s Assembly, where they called for issues ranging from deforestation to democracy to be addressed ahead of ASEAN integration.

About 700 people from the Cambodian Cross Sector Network, a group made up of 40 grassroots organisations, travelled from provinces around the country to attend the event.

With the theme of “ASEAN Integration”, participants were divided into four groups to discuss issues involved with human rights and democracy, social protection, agriculture and fisheries, and natural resources.

Chhay Savun, a farmer from Prey Veng province, spoke of fears that Cambodian farmers would not be able to compete with those elsewhere in the region.

The government should “provide a loan with a low interest rate to farmers, prevent the importation of products that locals already have and set standard food prices in the market” to relieve those fears, he said.

“The government should also help by sending more experts to teach farmers” here new skills, he added.

Elsewhere at the assembly, Pursat province land activist Nhong Khun urged the government to “speed up the registration of community forests so that they will be easy for people to protect”.

Teachers at yesterday’s event called for improvements to the education system, including recruiting more teachers and providing health insurance and overtime pay.

Government officials who attended the assembly said concerns raised were being addressed.

Huor Chhunkry, a Ministry of Education representative, said reforms were already being implemented, but acknowledged that some changes were proving “slow”.

Organisers said concerns raised at yesterday’s event would be compiled and sent on to relevant ministries and institutions in the coming weeks.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor at local rights group Licadho, said that with ASEAN integration looming, the government needed to act quickly to address the concerns.

“When Cambodians go to their countries, we work as the [low-level] workers, but when they come to our country they are the bosses, so what is the problem? If people are forced to focus on land disputes, how can they have time to consider social development, especially since they don’t have money to support their children’s education?” he asked.

“Therefore, in the future, will our human resources be able to gain a key position in the ASEAN market? This is what the government should think about.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • PM warns party of complacency in leaked audio

    Two leaked audio tapes, purportedly of Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking candidly to senior officials, appear to hint at insecurities within the ruling party over the controversial dissolution of the country’s main opposition, with the premier warning that the party’s “struggle” didn’t

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • Music festival promises big stage, has even bigger hopes

    With a line-up of local and international artists, and a massive outdoor venue booked on Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, Saturday’s Diamond Moon Festival is aiming to showcase contemporary musical and artistic talents at a scale rarely seen in the Kingdom. [img] But the