Local Businessmen May Help Pay for KR Trial

Several prominent Cambodian businessmen said Sunday that they would donate money to help cover the government’s $11.8-million shortfall for the Khmer Rouge tribunal if the government makes an official request.

“I will donate money for [the tribunal] in order to help the government,” Sok Kong, director of Soki­mex Co, said Sunday.

Sok Kong said he didn’t believe he would be the only business lead­er prepared to pitch in.

“Generally, I think and expect many business people will contri­bute money for the tribunal whenever we get the announcement or any suggestion from Samdech [Hun Sen],” Sok Kong added.

Kith Meng, chairman of Royal Group of companies, echoed those statements Sunday.

“If [Hun Sen] comes up with a pol­­icy or a formal request, we would have no objection,” he said, though the full details would have to be worked out.

In December, the government and the UN agreed that Cambodia would contribute $13.3 million of the tribunal’s $56.3-million budget and the international community would pay the rest.

But the government announ­ced in March that because of financial constraints it would only be able to contribute $1.5 million. It has since appealed to international donors to help make up the shortfall.

At a meeting between the government’s Khmer Rouge tribunal taskforce and foreign diplomats last week, the idea of approaching business leaders, both Cambo­dian and international, was proposed to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

Sok An was reported to have said that the tribunal law allowed for such contributions, but so far there has been no formal request for them by the government.

A diplomat on Sunday said that if the government were to launch a formal appeal, it would do much to show donors—many of whom are reportedly frustrated with the government’s inability to contri­bute more than $1.5 million to the trial—that it is making an effort.

“I think [third parties] cannot give it all, but there are some countries who would contribute if there is that effort,” the diplomat said. “My impression is [the government] thinks the donors can give a big-sized donation.”

Kong Triv, president of KT Pa­ci­fic Group, said he would decide on whether to contribute only once he received an official announcement or appeal from the government.

Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he has long ad­vocated for alternative funding sources.

But the government hasn’t been clear about wheth­er it would ac­cept such donations, and even if it were to, there are no procedures in place for it to accept the mon­ey and ensure that it goes toward the tribunal.

“There’s no account, no pro­cess,” Youk Chhang said Sunday.

Helen Jarvis, of the government’s Khmer Rouge taskforce, said the government’s appeal for money has always included overtures to third parties.

“The doors have been open,” she said Sunday. “We’ve always said we are accepting donations.”

But Jarvis would not say if or when the government would make a formal appeal to business leaders.

Policies for accepting such do­na­tions are “being put in place. It’s in the works,” she added.

 

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