Mean, ruthless and devoid of any sense of humour. Reinforced by the recent financial crisis that seems to have affected everything apart from their bonuses, this is the traditional image of bankers in the West.
It is not so in rural Cambodia where ACLEDA Bank is very much part of the community and culture.
“ACLEDA has a regulation that staff have to go to a pagoda once a year to perform a ceremony,” says Kampong Cham branch manager Heng Phalla. “We also collect money from staff to give to monks.”
This year the branch has collected US$750 from its staff to paint a mural at Phnom Keo Romuol Pagoda in Ro Ang Commune on the outskirts of Kampong Cham.
“We selected a pagoda that was in a poor part of town and in a bad condition,” says Heng Phalla. “Poor people visit the pagoda to get food.”
The pagoda is in a remote part of town close to the disused former airstrip. Bamboo scaffolding surrounds the pagoda that is still under construction.
Sin Sarin, 32, the abbot of Phnom Keo Romuol Pagoda says construction has thus far taken four years, but gives us little indication of when it will be completed.
As for the mural financed by ACLEDA staff, Sin Sarin says painters are working on other pagodas. “When they have finished there, they will come here,” he says.