The owner of the Grandtex International Ltd garment factory, which was destroyed by a fire nearly two weeks ago, left the country Saturday with no clear plans to return, a factory administrator said Monday.
Henry Liu, a Taiwanese national who keeps a permanent residence in Malaysia, left Cambodia after treatment of the injuries he received when his four-story factory caught fire and collapsed May 21, a factory administrator said on condition of anonymity.
Representatives from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, local police and Indochine Insurance said Monday they have been left guessing who will take responsibility for cleaning up the factory’s smoldering rubble.
Witnesses and officials have said since the fire that they feared that some workers and looters may have died in the fire or be trapped in the debris. So far, no concerted effort has been made to look for bodies of potential victims.
A meeting to discuss the cleanup is scheduled today between Meanchey district Deputy Governor Em Sokleang, who is also director of the factory’s investigative committee, Indochine Insurance officials and the factory’s landlord, You San.
You San said Sunday he will pay for the cleanup if he receives insurance money from its owner. But Indochine’s reinsurance agent Kim Soulevann said none of the approximately $5.6 million policy can be delivered until Liu divulges building plans and submits other required documents.
Em Sokleang said he was unaware of Liu’s departure.
“In case Henry Liu has left and does not return to Cambodia, I will make a report and send it to the municipal court to charge him,” Em Sokleang said Monday.
Liu’s absence also has prompted questions about the compensation for the factory’s workers.
Following the fire, Grandtex promised the factory’s more than 1,000 workers 45 percent of their salaries, according to a union representative.
Many of the workers would return to work within 15 days when Grandtex resumes operations in a rented facility, the official said last week.
But nearly two weeks after the fire, no plans to relocate or pay the workers has been made public.
Ker Soksidney, adviser to the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, said Monday he was not concerned about the workers’ salaries.
“If the owner leaves Cambodia, they will have another person to be responsible to have payment for workers. The administrator will take care of that,” he said.