Reforms Promised by New Chamber President Commerce To Vote for President

Kith Meng of the Royal Group of companies was elected president of the Phnom Penh Cham­ber of Commerce on Monday, pro­­mising reform and new efforts to attract foreign investors.

Kith Meng, whose investments in­clude MobiTel and TV station CTN, said he will focus on attracting investment in agriculture and tour­ism during his 3-year mandate.

He plans to increase communi­ca­tion with other chambers of com­merce in the provinces and abroad, and to use his TV station to “help people understand about the role of the Chamber of Com­merce.”

Mao Thura, undersecretary of state for the Commerce Ministry, said the election results were no surprise.

“They knew beforehand who would win and who would not,” he said. “They lobbied among themselves.”

“Nobody wants to lose face if they actually lost the election,” he added.

He added that Kith Meng’s im­me­diate predecessor, Sokimex petroleum president Sok Kong, previously ran unopposed.

Sok Kong said he had felt no pres­sure to step down and offered his guidance as “honorary president.”

“I was president for six years,” he said. “We can’t always have the same person run for president.”

Ask­ed why he wanted the position, Kith Meng replied: “It’s not a ques­tion of what I want. I was elec­ted.”

Kith Meng won unopposed with 33 votes. One member was ab­sent and six abstained, Mao Thu­ra said.

Tim Smyth, President of the Aus­tralian Business Association of Cam­bodia, was optimistic about the benefits of Kith Meng’s inter­na­tional experience.

While access to capital is a ma­jor limitation for Cambodian busi­nes­ses, businesses also need modern management practices, he said.

“[Kith Meng’s] business associ­a­tions with international companies will allow him to bring the feed­back from international com­pa­nies,” Smyth said. “The more peo­ple that the chamber of commerce has that understand the workings of international business, the better.”

The Phnom Penh chamber is sche­duled to move into a new six-story, $1 million-plus building on Rus­sian Boulevard, to be paid for by Suzuki and Sharp product distributor OMC Co Ltd, which will build a new vehicle showroom at the chamber’s current location, Mao Thura said.

Kith Meng offered $100,000 to­ward the chamber’s operating bud­get for this year, which Mao Thura estimated at $300,000.

“We should wait and see [Kith Meng’s] activity in six months,” Sok Kong said. “Now it’s still too ear­ly to say whether he’s a good lea­der or not.”


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