Progress of Private Sector Sponsorship Plans Unclear

An initiative to encourage 59 private sector companies to sponsor frontline RCAF units has so far garnered at least three such pairings, a senior RCAF official said, though one of the companies denies involvement, and the amount collected is not yet known.

Major General Srey Dek, commander of division 3, said that several companies have formalized their sponsorship of military units since a list of proposed sponsorships surfaced in February. He did not know how much was collected in total.

Still, he said he could only remember the names of three companies: Krek Rubber Plantation, Mong Reththy Group and ANZ Royal Bank, which denies any involvement. He said that Krek plantation donated $70,000 to Division Three. He said that officials at City Hall and Ministry of Meteorology have also collected personal donations from their employees for the military, but he did not know how much.

“For now the RCAF is strong since there are so many companies and government organizations sponsoring everything,” he said, adding that money goes towards food, water, shelter, uniforms and other necessities, but not weapons or ammunition.

He added that even before the initiative, private donors and personal donations from government officials amounted to $4 million and paid for a headquarters complex and roads in Preah Vihear.

Rights Groups have criticized the sponsorships, claiming that some companies rely on soldiers to protect their investments from land protesters.

ANZ Royal Bank CEO Stephen Higgins said the company declined an invitation to participate.

“I can guarantee that not one cent has come from us,” he said. “We operate in many countries all around the world. And it would simply not be appropriate to provide support to any individual military in that sense.”

Officials from the Krek Rubber Plantation, Ministry of Meteorology and City Hall could not be reached for comment.

Chhun Sucheat, Defense Ministry spokesman, said he did not know how many companies were involved in the initiative or the amount of donations.

“I could not remember how many companies and government organizations,” he said, adding a report will be complete next week listing what companies are involved and how much they have given.

Mong Reththy Group company vice president Monivann Tan said his company had signed on to provide financial assistance to Border Police unit 827.

“We have sponsored RCAF Border Police unit 827 with food, housings, computers, generators… I could not tell you for how much,” he said.

    (additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)


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