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Ministry throws garment pageant

Winners of a beauty contest pose for photos with their awards at the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh
Winners of a beauty contest pose for photos with their awards at the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh last Friday. MINISTRY OF LABOUR

Ministry throws garment pageant

At first, garment worker So Sreyleak did not believe she was pageant material, according to union representative and co-worker Pov Sith. But after a little coaxing, he added, the shoe factory employee found herself standing on the podium of the Labour Ministry’s first-ever garment worker beauty contest.

Sith, a representative of Cambodian Labour Union Federation at Kandal province’s Ying Dong Shoes Co, said Sreyleak had shown poise at the competition, which was held on International Labour Day on Friday.

“She was nervous at the contest,” Sith said. “[But] when judges asked her questions, she answered the labour-related questions well, even though she had little knowledge.”
Sreyleak was third of about 60 contestants, winning $100.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) provided the prize money, which amounted to $300 for first prize, $200 for second, $100 for third and $20 for all other participants, its secretary general Ken Loo said.

However, Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, yesterday said the contest seemed like distracting “propaganda”. Having women strutting about onstage, he said, wrongly perpetuates the notion that garment industry workers are generally happy and healthy.

Labour Ministry officials could not be reached.

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