Cambodia cancels holidays to boost growth but stalls on key rights issues for EU trade

The Cambodian government plans to eliminate six public holidays, including International Human Rights Day, in a move to attract investors. But the ploy has drawn criticism from civil society and suggests the government will refuse to engage with the EU on domestic rights issues.

On August 7, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that Cambodians would have 22 public holidays next year, reduced from 28 in 2019. The decree will eliminate International Children’s Day, International Human Rights Day and Paris Peace Agreement Day, which honours the end of the Cambodian-Vietnamese War after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, as well as the National Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Khmer Rouge.

Government officials claim the decision is intended to make the country’s workforce more productive and make Cambodia an easier place to do business. Ek Tha, spokesman for Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, said: “The government wants the Kingdom to be competitive and attract national and international investments.”

But the move has drawn questions from workers’ rights groups, unions and civil society at large. Some claim the government’s choice of holidays to eliminate reflects a troubling trend, suggesting it may prioritize foreign investment over honouring the country’s national history and human rights.

In full:

Related Stories

Latest News