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Biz Chamber candidates gear up for vote

Biz Chamber candidates gear up for vote

C AMBODIA will soon have a Chamber of Commerce, for the first time in 20

years.

Applications to stand for election to the chamber closed on Aug

23, and candidates have two weeks to conduct their election campaigns before a

vote is held on Sept 8.

Twenty-four people will be elected - eight from

the trade sector, eight from industry, four from the service sector and one from

agricultural - to a six-year term on the chamber.

A chairman and a

vice-chairman will be elected from among the 24.

The key contenders for

the chairman's position are: Ted Ngoy, owner of the King Group real estate

agency; Kong Triv, an Oknha (nobleman, a title given by the King) and owner of

the Cambodian Tobacco Company; Phu Kok An, managing-director of Anco Brothers;

Srey Leang Chheang, general-director of the Chimex Import-Export company; and

Oknha Teng Boon Ma, owner of the Thai Boon Rong company.

Under Ministry

of Commerce rules, candidates are barred from defaming or accusing each other,

holding parades or "luring" voters and conducting public surveys. They are

supposed to campaign only about their success, achievements and

experience.

As of last week, some 200 businesspeople have registered to

vote in the elections.

The Chamber of Commerce, under the direct control

of the Ministry of Commerce, is expected to act as a bridge between the

government, private sector and foreign investors.

It will advise

prospective foreign investors, put them in contact with local companies and give

information on government licensing regulations.

One local businessman,

not standing for election, told the Post he hoped the chamber would help to

smooth out problems between the government and businesspeople.

He hoped

government licensing procedures could be streamlined and corruption

reduced.

Lu Lay Sreng, Secretary of State of Ministry of Commerce, said

the chamber was unlikely to be able to eliminate corruption by 100 per

cent.

But he said the chamber would serve a vital role in making it

easier for foreign investors to get information about business opportunities in

Cambodia.

Another ministry official, asked about whether chamber

officials were likely to make decisions and give advice which favored their own

businesses over their competitors, said that could not be avoided.

It was

human nature to act in one's own interests, he said, but people on the chamber

would be required to work to help all businesspeople. If they did not, they

would be open to criticism and opposition from others.

Three candidates

for the chairman's position spoken to by the Post said that, if they won, they

would concentrate on improving relations between foreign and local

businesses.

Ted Ngoy said that, as well as making it easier for foreign

investors to get advice, he would concentrate on offering training to Cambodian

small business entrepreneurs.

Teng Boon Ma said he would send local

businesspeople overseas to study foreign practices, and invite foreign experts

to visit Cambodia.

Kong Triv, who also wanted to help exchange ideas

between foreign and Cambodian firms, claimed he was confident of winning the

election.

"I don't need to campaign because people in the city know me

well," he said.

The chairman's job will be unpaid, like all the chamber's

positions, and likely to be full-time.

Singapore, Malaysia, the United

States, the European Union and the United Nations Industrial Development

Organization will assist the Chamber of Commerce with technical advice, staff

training, office equipment and vehicles.

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