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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ending of flag scheme earns guarded praise

The Cambodian registered cargo ship called the Pu Hae pictured in 2008. west-jp/ShipSpotting.com
The Cambodian registered cargo ship called the Pu Hae pictured in 2008. west-jp/ShipSpotting.com

Ending of flag scheme earns guarded praise

A global federation of transport workers unions has cautiously praised Cambodia's move to eliminate its flag of convenience scheme, offering a “guarded welcome” to the government’s decision to strip all foreign-owned ships of their registration.

Jacqueline Smith maritime coordinator of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said in a press release on Monday that in principle, the ITF supports Cambodia’s decision to “[make] the flag what it should be, a true national resource”.

The Kingdom’s flag of convenience program drew to a close on August 31, following two decades of infamy in which the flag was used as a cover for crimes ranging from arms smuggling to sanctions violations.

Smith emphasised that it was now up to the Cambodian government to follow through on the measure, saying the ITF would be “watching to see what difference this announcement makes in the real world”.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

An August 17 letter sent by Transport Minister Sun Chanthol to the International Maritime Organization stated that after ships’ registrations expired at the end of August, any ship flying the Cambodian flag would be “considered illegal and subjected to applicable international laws and regulations”.

A previous version of this article stated that vessel-tracking website MarineTraffic had listed nearly two dozen ships still posting locational updates under the Cambodian flag. However, records on other websites suggest that the data on MarineTraffic may be inaccurate or out of date. The Post apologises for any confusion caused.
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