Ex-Members Protest Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce

Six dismissed members of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Com­merce held a demonstration in front of the chamber’s offices Wednes­day, claiming incompetence and unfair treatment by chamber chairman Sok Kong.

“I was fired illegally,” said Ted Ngoy, one of the six, . “I will continue to speak out until I die.”

The other five fired members are Ouk Khun, Kim Vandy, Keo Meas, Chan Ven and Kim Long. They say they will protest through Thursday.

The six are among 36 members elected by vendors to work with the Chamber of Commerce, an arm of the Ministry of Com­merce. On Wednesday they were supported by a smattering of the vendors who elected them.

In a directive dismissing the members issued July 12, Com­merce Minister Cham Prasidh stated that five of the members’ businesses were not registered with the government.

The sixth, Kim Vandy, was ac­cused of not attending meetings for a year and owing $1,200 from not paying $50 monthly dues, the directive said. The dismissals were requested by Sok Kong, the directive stated.

But Ted Ngoy charged that Sok Kong, who is president of the Sokimex petroleum company and a family member of Minister of Cabinet Sok An, had achieved little and acted dictatorially during his three-year term as president. Sok Kong isn’t able to answer the questions of potential foreign investors, and hasn’t held seminars designed to improve the Chamber, he said.

“I think Sok Kong is killing the country’s economy,” he said.

Sok Kong, whose term formally ended in April, said the men had violated chamber policy. Some have not paid their dues, and others had no viable business, he said. The ultimate decision to fire the men came from the ministry, he added. The elected members are scheduled to decide on a new president July 28. The six men claim the election would not be free or fair and Sok Kong should not be allowed to run again. Sok Kong said he is not sure whether he will run.



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