Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Biz execs bemoan kidnapper gangs

Biz execs bemoan kidnapper gangs

Biz execs bemoan kidnapper gangs

A World Bank sponsored business seminar quickly lost its demure and academic tone

when participants were asked what they found were the major problems in doing business

in Cambodia.

Participants at Wednesday's seminar became markedly more animated when they were

given a chance to discuss kidnappings and corruption rather than infrastructure or

economic topics.

The seminar, which was jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the Association of

Cambodian Local Economic Development Agencies (ACLEDA), was designed to elicit feedback

on the preliminary findings of a World Bank survey conducted last October on "Constraints

Affecting Private Business in Cambodia".

The survey sample consisted of 200 businesses from across Cambodia, ranging from

"small" businesses with as few as three employees to "large"

businesses of more than 50 employees.

Many of the survey's preliminary findings regarding the impact of the Kingdom's chronic

infrastructure limitations on business operations were predictable - only 36% of

survey respondents had phone service and 1/3 lacked electrical power.

However discussions on those topics were left behind when the seminar's presenter,

Andrew H.W. Stone, Senior Specialist of Private Enterprise Development for the World

Bank, asked the dozen assorted business people in attendance for their opinions on

the major problems they face in doing business.

"Kidnapping threats," one man said immediately, evoking a murmur of agreement

from fellow participants.

According to a female participant, smaller Khmer businesses were particularly vulnerable

to kidnappings by well organized gangs.

"It's the small firms that have the biggest risks (of kidnapping)," the

woman explained. "They don't have the bodyguards with them everywhere they go."

The woman alleged that kidnapping rings work in collusion with government officials

in the selection of potential kidnap victims.

"Kidnappers have very accurate sources," she said. "They know exactly

how much [victims] have in their bank accounts, so [government officials] must be

involved."

Participants also agreed that the problem of government corruption is worsening rather

than decreasing.

One participant, describing the near-institutionalized practice of paying small bribes

to government officials for processing essential paperwork, said corrupt officials

appeared "hungrier" than in earlier years.

"We're having to pay more than before," the participant complained. "Ten

dollars used to be enough [for most transactions] but now they want more."

The increasing monetary demands from corrupt civil servants were suggested by one

seminar participant as harmful to the international competitiveness of Cambodian

companies.

"That's why the prices [of some goods] in Cambodia are much higher than in Vietnam

or Thailand," she said.

The preliminary findings of the World Bank survey indicate that private business

in Cambodia put little faith in the judicial branch of government interceding to

alleviate their concerns regarding corruption and personal safety.

A survey question asking respondents to rate how "quick, honest, fair and impartial"

they considered the judicial system evoked the responses "never" "seldom"

or "sometimes" from a full 82% of respondents.

Stone stressed that the survey findings divulged during the seminar were strictly

preliminary and deferred any comment until the final version of the survey results

are released later this year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • Two major S’ville events could jumpstart international tourism: insiders

    Preah Sihanouk province is set to host two major international tourism-related events in late 2021 and early 2022, which insiders expect to ignite new interest among new and repeat foreign holidaymakers into visiting the Kingdom and significantly raise tourist arrivals from near zero in the Covid era.