Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A Koh Kong wrong

A Koh Kong wrong

A Koh Kong wrong

The King of Koh Kong has done it again. As if Ly Yong Phat’s sand digging weren’t already wreaking enough havoc along the Tatai River, one of his earth-eating monstrosities managed to knock out power to the provincial capital.

The result will be as many as seven days without power for Khemarak Pumin town, as well as an unquantifiable amount of lost business for the local community.

LYP’s exploits are well known. He’s the CPP senator selling Koh Kong sand to Singapore, and dredging up the ire of locals in the process. He’s drawn protests from villagers evicted to make way for his Kampong Speu palm sugar plantation as well. And now Khemarak Pumin, where yesterday Governor Phe Thoun Plamkesan said local businesses – those who can’t afford generators – are using candles to light shops and restaurants at night.

He expects restoration to full power to take at least four to seven days, as Ly Yong Phat’s dredging machine managed to fell on of the town’s main electricity poles. Businesses both large and small are facing a loss of income, he said.

“We can’t count the total amount of money lost, but we think it has had a huge effect on our town.”

Keo Chun Chheng, who works at Koh Kong City Hotel, said his generator burns 270 litres of petrol a day in order to keep the lights on. And even then it’s not enough to do so all the time. He estimated the hotel loses “40 per cent of our income when the electricity is off.”

Even Veng Chum, a 42-year-old vendor in Khemarak Pumin, told the Post he can’t earn the US$30 a day he usually does because he can’t conduct business at night.

“It’s difficult to do anything,” he said yesterday, adding he was “so worried” about the loss of business.

Admittedly, Ly Yong Phat is low-hanging fruit. It’s easy to take a big swing at a guy who’s so derided by both the activist community and a sizeable segment of the public. But there’s a larger issue worth noting here.

As big as the swing taken at Ly Yong Phat, these events leave big impressions on foreign investors. They remember land evictions. They remember the environmental damage done by sand dredging. And they’ll remember a company that remained quiet while an entire town sat in darkness.

There’s more to worry about than just the General Electrics of the world. Smaller investors are a concern here as well, and the treatment of local businesses in Khemarak Pumin won’t go unnoticed. Tim Martin, an investment analyst at tourism promotion firm Pacific Islands Trade and Invest, told the Post last summer Ly Yong Phat’s dredging operations along the Taitai had concerned investors.

“It may only take a few deals to go bad for Cambodia’s reputation as a safe investment destination to be damaged,” he said. Therefore, Ly Yong Phat should use the reach and influence of his company to fix the outage problem in Khemarak Pumin, and possibly go so far as to make restitution to the business community that’s suffered thus far. He made overtures to such corporate responsibility in a July interview with the Post, and it seems this situation certainly calls for it.

However, LYP Group so far has made no public comment about the power outage, and Ly Yong Phat did not answer his cell phone when the Post tried to reach him yesterday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING SEN DAVID

Contact Tom at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’