Owner of Fire-Razed Factory Leaves Country

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.

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