Carlsberg Unworried by Call for Beer Boycott

Danish beer giant Carlsberg, a partner in Cambodia’s largest brewery, Cambrew, said it is not concerned by a call to boycott its popular Angkor Beer brand over a partner company’s investment in a Laos dam.

Ben Morton, vice president of Carlsberg’s international media relations and issues management de­partment, said in an email that Goh Nan Kioh’s roles as director of Cambrew and head of Mega First—the Malaysian investment company in charge of the Don Sahong dam—are “two separate issues.”

Cambrew, which manufactures Angkor Beer, is a joint venture be­tween Mr. Goh and the Copen­hagen-based Carlsberg Group.

“[T]he Don Sahong Dam project in Laos is an independent project in which Carlsberg has no involvement and no financial interest,” Mr. Morton said, declining to comment further on the call for  boycott.

A local community leader in Stung Treng province’s Sesan district and a local NGO said this week that they will call for the boycott of Angkor Beer because Mr. Goh also heads the company building the Don Sahong dam.

Located about 1 km from the Cambodian border, environmentalists believe the 260-MW dam will block fish migratory passages, leading to food insecurity for Cambodian communities downriver.

According to Carlsberg’s website, its corporate social responsibility efforts include outreach to its consumers.

“We maintain an open dialogue with our customers to better understand their requirements regarding the quality and sustainability of our products,” the website states.

Saysana Phommasy, Cambrew’s chief operating officer, also said he was unperturbed by the boycott threat.

“The project is the Lao government’s project and the development company. For Cambrew, we don’t have anything involved,” Mr. Saysana said.

“If you don’t do anything to the good people, then you don’t have to worry. So I am not worried be­cause I did not do anything bad.”

Mr. Saysana, who is a Laos citizen, was listed in a 2007 World Bank document as a representative of Mega First in reference to the Don Sahong project, as he apparently attended a hydropower forum in September 2007 organized by the bank.

Mr. Saysana declined to elaborate on how his name ended up on a World Bank document as an “office director” for Mega First working on the Don Sahong dam.

“For me, I only do Angkor Beer; I have nothing involved [with the dam],” Mr. Saysana said. “I only help my friend to run the other operation. It is not involved.”

Puth Khoeun, a community representative in Sesan district, said both Carlsberg and Cambrew had a responsibility to their consumers in Cambodia.

“[Mr. Goh’s] role in the dam company is not separate because he is the same person holding senior positions in two separate companies,” Mr. Khoeun said.

(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)

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