Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt blocks meeting with contestants

Govt blocks meeting with contestants

Govt blocks meeting with contestants

090806_05
Miss Battambang, Dos Sopheap.

THE organiser of the ill-fated Miss Landmine pageant still wants to show his appreciation to the contestants, despite being told by government officials that a meeting with the women would be "absolutely out of the question".

The Ministry of Social Affairs issued a decree on Sunday banning organiser Morten Traavik from staging the event, which had been intended to celebrate land mine survivors.

Traavik said the ministry has since instructed its provincial offices not to assist any of the women in travelling to Phnom Penh to meet with him, where he was planning to host a dinner and give each of them a gift of US$200.

"If they refuse to let me meet with Cambodian citizens ... as a private person, that is an even more blatant example of an authoritarian system," Traavik said.

Despite these frustrations, Traavik plans to comply with the government decree, although the Miss Landmine Web site, hosted on foreign soil, will remain online.

"I'm a Norwegian citizen.... But for my Cambodian friends and partners, I have to put their well-being in front of everything else," he said.

On Wednesday, the Cambodian Disabled People's Organisation (CDPO) issued a statement in support of the government ban. CDPO officials had previously collaborated with Traavik on the pageant.

"We would like to express our gratitude for the valuable recommendations of ... [Minister of Social Affairs] Ith Sam Heang, who offered his timely advice to the CDPO," the statement read.

CDPO's executive director, Ngin Saorath, said that the organisation works closely with the ministry on a variety of projects and must maintain good relations. "What the government decides, we have to respect," he said.

Traavik was unsurprised by the CDPO's reversal, saying that their statement was written "in full understanding" with him.

Ngin Saorath, however, downplayed the significance of the controversy. "It doesn't mean this is the end of the rights of people with disabilities," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget