Parties Pitch Business Ideas Pitch

In the vision of Cambodia un­der the premiership of radio personality Mam Sonando, Cam­bodia would be closed to the influences that have stifled its economic growth—namely foreign logging companies and karaoke club owners.

In fact, every potential investor would get a closer inspection, the Sambok Khmoum president said during one of the televised panel discussions allotted to all political parties.

“In Cambodia, I have observed, there are many investors but many of them are karaoke club operators, sex traffickers, opium smugglers or loggers, and this is why our economy has not progressed,” he said in a recently televised political party roundtable, where foreign investment was the day’s topic.

Solving Cambodia’s investment slowdown in the five minutes allotted each party in the panel discussion brought some similarly creative, if not slightly unusual ideas.

The Khmer Democratic Party’s plan is quite straightforward: improve security, and investors will come.

Molinaka President Prum Neakareach has grander ideas. He visualizes the sleepy seaside town of Siha­noukville being transformed into a global center for commerce—Hong Kong II.

To draw investors, he proposed borrowing several million dollars from banks for villages to build factories and homes and to pay salaries. In 20 years or so, the loan will be paid back and the villagers will own the factory. “We can do this easily,” he said.

The Khmer New Life party seems less sure about how to lure private investors, but it is certain of one thing—the government should stay out of it. “Before 1970 and now the more the state owns, the worse the economy is,” said the party representative. “Our party would privatize everything.”

Mam Sonando remained reluctant to ease procedures for private investors. “My plan is we accept all investors, but we have to check their background,” he advised, adding that he was speaking from 20 years of experience in France.

“We must not accept immoral investors,” he said.


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