Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unions eye Bandith verdict




Unions eye Bandith verdict

A female security guard walks past broken windows at a Puma supplier factory in Svay Rieng province in 2012 where former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith shot three garment workers during a protest.
A female security guard walks past broken windows at a Puma supplier factory in Svay Rieng province in 2012 where former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith shot three garment workers during a protest. Derek Stout

Unions eye Bandith verdict

As Chhouk Bandith yesterday began his 18-month jail term, union leaders praised the arrest of the former Bavet town governor who shot into a crowd of striking garment workers in 2012, though most saw in it no hint of a warming in relations between the government and independent unions.

After spending more than two years in hiding, Bandith turned himself in to authorities on Saturday, less than a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen had publicly called for his arrest.

The February 2012 incident, for which Bandith finally entered the doors of Svay Rieng Provincial Prison yesterday, left three female garment workers from a factory in Bavet’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone hospitalised with bullet wounds.

“It’s a good sign for the unions,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.

“We have been looking for justice. He committed a crime, but now he is in jail to receive [justice].”

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, also said he welcomed the development.

“I congratulate Hun Sen’s intervention on this,” he said, adding that the arrest would make authorities who intend on using violence against workers think twice.

“I think it is a good sign for workers and unions, and also a warning sign for others who dare to use violence against garment workers or unions when they protest for their rights and working conditions.”

Sina added, however, that the move was likely tied to the recent arrest of Sok Bun, whose arrest was also called for by Hun Sen after video of the property tycoon beating up television presenter Ek Socheata, aka Ms Sasa, surfaced in early July.

Sar Mora, president of Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, agreed with the analysis.

“Chhouk Bandith was not arrested for many years since the court convicted him,” he said.

“It’s more about the [three injured] women demanding justice and comparing [themselves] to the case of the TV star.”

At the end of July, the three victims protested in front of the National Assembly, saying that Hun Sen had never called for Bandith’s arrest, unlike in Sok Bun’s case.

Aside from Bandith’s jailing, Mora insisted there had been “no improvement” in the government’s relations with unions, adding that justice has yet to be served to the five garment workers killed by military police gunfire during protests in Phnom Penh in January 2014.

“But we still call for a strong commitment [to justice] from the government,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • First Khmer woman to pass out of West Point

    The life of a soldier certainly isn’t for everyone. The training is gruelling, the hours long and there’s no room for excuses. On top of that, soldiers must be ready to respond to sudden threats at a moment’s notice. Just ask Sithyka

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last