A BOUT 200 Royal Air Cambodge (RAC) employees - 40 per cent of its staff - have
been transferred to the air force in the first major shakeup of the fledgling
The move, met with anger by those transferred, led to a spate of
vandalism and looting of RAC property at Pochentong Airport.
officials say police are investigating to find the culprits.
some of the 200 transferred staff - who were given six months' salary as
compensation - are complaining about their treatment.
A group of them
told the Post that of the 200, only about 30 have been given positions in the
air force. Others have resigned, while the remainder have been told to check in
at the Pochentong air force base every morning and night and wait to see whether
they get jobs.
The disgruntled group criticized RAC management of
"Most of the remaining staff at RAC [belong to] the clans of
some government officials," said one.
"[The restructuring] was supposed
to have been done two months earlier, but was delayed due to a change of staff
who were supposed to be transferred."
RAC chairman Vichit Ith, at a May
27 press conference, proclaimed the restructuring had been conducted fairly and
in the best interests of the airline.
"We are a private company and in a
highly competitive business. We have to maintain and improve our standard of
services to attract more passengers to fly with us."
He said the staff
cuts, which had been recommended by First Prime Minister Prince Norodom
Ranariddh, were necessary to improve efficiency and profitability.
Md. Salleh, RAC commercial affairs manager, said the airline was not a
"charitable organization" and had to be managed profitably and with the right
number of employees
The restructuring had been decided upon by RAC's
shareholders - the Cambodian government and Malaysian Helicopter Services.
Dr Amin Khan, RAC chief operating officer, said one-on-one interviews
were held with all of RAC's 500 staff to determine which ones should be
Officials said the remaining staff would receive training,
uniforms benefits such as medical care, and higher salaries.
said RAC planned to begin flights to China and Laos and secure two new
Before the restructuring, RAC had 500 staff, former employees
of Kampuchea Airlines until RAC became its successor.
RAC, started in
January, is 60 per cent owned by the Cambodian government and 40 per cent by
Malaysian Helicopter Services, which is affiliated to Malaysian
Vichit Ith was recently appointed its chairman, after the
unexpected resignation of Prince Sisowath Chivan Monirak in late
Ith's appointment has been questioned by some lawyers because he
is also Secretary-General of the Cambodian Investment Board - in charge of
handling foreign investment in Cambodia.
Ith, however, disputed the
suggestion there was any conflict of interest in the two jobs.
He said he
was not a member of the government, and the Cambodian Investment Board was in no
way competing with RAC.
His appointment merely reflected the government's
eagerness to put professional, qualified people in charge of businesses it was a