Following your story in your last edition, "Ex-soldiers replace striking workers," (Post,
April 23) I am writing to express my profound disappointment at the decision to report
what is undoubtedly a newsworthy and relevant issue in a way which detracts from
the valuable work carried out by our project.
This reflects unfavorably on the hard work and commitment shown by these highly marginalized
and disadvantaged people in their sincere efforts to attain useful and marketable
skills, and to ease the struggle of reintegration into civil society.
Furthermore, the choice to highlight the case of three individuals from the 100 we
have trained or are in the process of training, or the 40 who have already found
employment in the hospitality industry, seems somewhat injudicious. I would therefore
like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points which call into question the
wisdom of the chosen headline.
With regards to the ongoing dispute in the hotel industry, we have always fully supported
the process of negotiation, arbitration and legal initiatives taken to resolve this
sensitive matter. We have indeed been approached by some of the hotels in question,
as we believe have several other schools and training institutions active in this
area, and highlighting this would undoubtedly have made for a more accurate and appropriate
article and headline.
In each case we have stated our position clearly: under no circumstances could
we provide staff to replace workers in the process of industrial action. In the case
of the three trainees used as the basis for the above headline, they were engaged
by the Hotel Inter-Continental on the 8th of April, before the current action began,
and considerably before the escalation of tensions brought about since. These placements
were the result of discussions started in February, as were the many other placements
achieved through the hard work and dedication of our project staff.
We would like to express our appreciation and thanks for the continued support our
trainees and project have received from all our private sector partners, including
the Hotel Inter-Continental. It is a testimony to the success and hard work of our
trainees - all of whom six months ago had little formal education, few if any language
skills, no marketable practical skills, and consequently little hope of employment
- that they are now in a position to help themselves and their families, in addition
to contributing to the Cambodian economy and growing tourism industry. That they
have achieved this through some of Cambodia's leading international companies
is doubly rewarding.
We have always had great respect for the work of the Phnom Penh Post in diligently
investigating, analyzing and reporting the many issues facing Cambodian development.
In this case, however, it is a shame that the selection and ordering of facts, and
the choice of headline, gave a misleading impression of both our work and our
trainees' achievements on such an exciting, valuable and innovative project.
Danny Whitehead - Assistant Project Manager - Retraining Project for Demobilised