Friday, 20 February 2015

Hun Sen Pursues Death Trap Economy

“These barbarian acts [shooting Cambodian citizens at the border] flagrantly violated not only agreements between the two governments, but the most elementary laws of any civilized country and the international law on human rights.”

Letter from Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry to Thai Government, 14 February 2015, The Cambodia Daily

“The failure of the [Thai] State to take legal action on those responsible for those [extra-judicial] killings as tantamount to the State’s encouragement of such extra-judicial killing.”

Letter from CNRP parliamentarians to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, 9 February 2015, CNRP

«អ្នកនៅស្រុកយើងមានអី មានតែថា នៅរកស៊ីនៅភ្នំពេញ ធ្វើជាអ្នកកាត់ដេរ ធ្វើការនៅរោងចក្រអ៊ីហ្នឹង ហើយឯណោះរកបានជាងនៅភ្នំពេញ គឺនៅថៃ ហ្នឹង។ វាថា នៅមួយឆ្នាំរកស៊ីមិនសល់លុយផងនៅភ្នំពេញ រកស៊ីនៅភ្នំពេញនោះ។ ថ្លៃទឹក ថ្លៃផ្ទះ ថ្លៃភ្លើង លិចកើតរកស៊ីគ្មានសល់។ នៅឯណោះ​(ថៃ) គេចំណាយបន្តិចតែសល់គ្រាន់បើបន្តិច។ បាទ ខ្ញុំចង់ឲ្យតែកូនចៅមកផ្ទះ ទោះរកបានមិនបាន មានក្រអីនៅស្រុកយើងហ្នឹងហើយ នៅស្រុកនោះបែកពីកូនបែកពីចៅ។ ខ្ញុំមិនចង់ឲ្យទៅដែរតែវាថាទៅ»

លោក ឆេន ឆឺយ អ្នកស្រុកស៊ីធរកណ្ដាល ខេត្តព្រៃវែង ១៩ ខែតុលា ឆ្នាំ២០១៤ វិទ្យុអាស៊ីសេរី

“Until now, I cannot walk and work. I am still in the house with an injury… and the company has not paid any compensation or hospital fees for me.”

Cambodian labourer Ms Kong Dalin at a South Korea’s tomato plantation, 30 December 2014, The Phnom Penh Post

“Figures sourced separately by the Guardian from Nepalese authorities suggest the total [death] during that period could be as high as 188. In 2013, the figure from January to mid-November was 168… A series of stories in the Guardian have shown that migrant workers from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere were dying in their hundreds. While some were listed as having been killed in workplace accidents, many more were said to have died from sudden, unexplained cardiac arrest.”

“The premier [Hun Sen] stressed that Cambodian workers in South Korea would not only receive money but also increase their experience and technological skills they can use back home.”

Kao Kim Hourn, a minister attached to Premier Hun Sen, 16 December 2014, The Phnom Penh Post

Those are tough words from Cambodia to Thailand, though this is not the first time they fly across the border. Will they work this time? Unlikely.

The likelihood is that Cambodian villagers will keep on crossing the border, assuming the border marks are clear, for petty activities to support their daily livelihood; and Thai soldiers will continue to use them as their target practice. Why? Because the first group has to, and the second mob can.

However, all are attributable to Hun Sen’s economy and labour policy that largely regard Cambodian lives with such contempt, hence encouraging aliens to do likewise.

First, Hun Sen treats Khmer people no better than the Thais do. He strips away dignity from the poor. He collects vagrants from Phnom Penh city streets and takes them away in caged vans. Thais do the same thing by putting hundreds of thousand Khmer migrant workers in Thailand in caged trucks, and dumped them at the border.

The Thais know those tough words, which are really for domestic consumption, will vanish in thin air. As Hun Sen is prepared to shoot dead unarmed Khmer demonstrators in Phnom Penh streets, there is no reason for the Thais not to shoot Khmers at the border. They know Hun Sen is not so sensitive to how Cambodian migrant workers are mistreated. It is a respectability issue that Hun Sen would need to address before the Thais stop shooting, and other maltreatments of the Khmer migrant workers cease.

Second, the Thais must know Hun Sen owes them some gratitude for providing jobs to some one million Cambodians, though they are not the kind of jobs over which Thai citizens would fight. But still gratitude is gratitude. Indeed, the gratitude cannot be as much as the one Hun Sen proudly declares he owes to the Eastern alien who provides the power base of his government. Still, the employment of a million workers is not something to scoff at for any economy, let alone a tiny one like the Cambodian, which amounts to about 11% of the whole workforce.

Third, this migrant workers scheme relieves Hun Sen from responsibility of creating local employment. Either the impressive GDP growth of about 8% p.a. in the last decade is inadequate, or the growth has concentrated in the wrong place. Effectively, Hun Sen gives Cambodian workers unsavoury options: unemployment, underemployment, underpaid employment, or unsafe employment abroad. A million of them take the last one for better pay that comes with risks of being abused.

The scheme must be working so well for Hun Sen and his personal interest groups that he is now to begin negotiations to export Cambodian labourers to another death trap at the Qatar 2022 World Cup construction site. It is estimated that at least 4,000 migrant workers there will kick the bucket before a ball is kicked due to inhumane work conditions.

Still, best of all, Hun Sen believes his exported slave labourers will bring home technological know-hows, unless they drop dead half-way.

Ung Bun Ang

Parthian Shot

Hun Send finds it easier for him to export one million workers than one million tons of rice. Why is it so? Because he can make the workers hungry, and he can’t the rice.

“Our milled rice exports to Europe are a lot now. But the 1 million [ton] target could be difficult in 2015. The processing problem is one thing, but the market problem is another thing.”

Premier Hun Sen, 18 February 2015, The Cambodia Daily

Editors Note

Readers are most welcome to comment and ask questions. However, it is with regret that I will not respond to any anonymous questions, especially those of personal nature.

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