Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vendors made to toe party line

Vendors made to toe party line

Armed security guards stand at the entrance of Phnom Penh’s Central Market
Armed security guards stand at the entrance of Central Market. KARA FOX

Vendors made to toe party line

Strolling through Central Market, it is no secret which party runs the place. Each storefront has two or three CPP posters and many display portraits of Prime Minister Hun Sen, while there is not a single CNRP rising sun to be found.

Last Friday, when opposition leader Sam Rainsy was welcomed by upwards of 100,000 CNRP supporters, many of whom had been waiting since dawn, the vendors at Central Market were not able to share in the momentous event. Those who tried say they were intimidated by security guards who ordered them to go back to work.

“We just wanted to hear what [Sam Rainsy] said, but they shouted at me to return. I’m afraid of being mistreated, so I returned,” said a 35-year-old clothing seller who refused to reveal her name fearing further reprisal from market officials.

In addition to blocking market vendors from welcoming the opposition leader, anyone trying to peruse the market sporting a CNRP logo risks being forced to leave, vendors told the Post.

Two jewellery vendors, afraid to speak on the matter in the open, summoned reporters across the street to a small shop in an alleyway.

“A few days ago, a CNRP activist entered the market and was dismissed by security guards. We dare not speak up, because we are under their authority,” said a female jeweller, 27.

Many vendors claimed stricter rules were placed on known CNRP supporters, who face near-constant harassment.

“We are warned not to even wave to welcome the CNRP campaign around the market. We cannot talk about other parties or we will be asked to the main office,” one vendor said, adding that on the day of Rainsy’s arrival, security guards took note of any vendors who tried to attend the speech using video cameras placed on the outer perimeter of the market.

Pon Dany, Central Market chief, rejected the allegations, saying the vendors were distorting the truth.

“It is not true. We did not ban vendors from listening to any speech. Whoever said this, please come to me,” she said, adding that the vendors asked for CPP posters to adorn their stores.

Opposition candidate Son Chhay said yesterday that the market was highly influenced by the CPP and accused those running it of oppression.

“People should have a right to complain about this. It is illegal, and we have to take action against that. The government controls the markets; when [the CNRP] tries to go to the market, they try to stop us,” he said.

“Cambodia is supposed to be a democratic society, but the system is the same as before. The government controls the market, businesses, everything. People are fed up with the system.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the