The cover of the latest issue of Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay magazine reads “Cambodia Still on the Rocks” and features a photograph of a ship listing toward dangerous crags.
Since the government contracted the South Korea-based Cosmos group to run the nation’s open shipping registry in early January, many have questioned the government’s commitment to improving Cambodia’s reputation in ports and seas worldwide.
Those criticisms regularly have found print, either online or in ink, through Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay, the information service that follows the global shipping industry.
The harshest condemnation came from David Cockroft, general secretary of the International Transportation Federation, who decried the new partnership, saying, “Cambodia has learned nothing. Once again they are going to put the reputation of their country in the hands of what may prove to be an unaccountable offshore company, and all for a reported $1 million—$0.08 a year for every Cambodian, in the unlikely event it ever reaches them.”
Chea Vandeth, an official at the Council of Ministers, the government body involved in brokering the Cosmos deal, defended the Council’s decision in an article.
“This contract is very favorable for the government’s control of the registration process. Cosmos will only do the provisional registration, then submit it to the government for permanent inclusion under the flag,” Chea Vandeth told Fairplay. Cosmos’ detractors have denounced the company for helping register two ships involved in the registry’s most-publicized mishaps of last year. In another article, Cosmos chairman Kang Eui Ku told Fairplay that “The rumor that Cosmos registered 166 ships is completely wrong…. As one of the agents of [Cambodian Shipping Corp] for the past six years, Cosmos has introduced 166 ships to CSC.”
Kang also told Fairplay that Cosmos’ Web page on the Cambodian registry might be misleading, because information there had been culled from CSC literature. The page is no longer in service, but it once praised the registry for its loose regulations and low fees.
“Cosmos may face loss due to reduction of the number of ships registered, but Cosmos places top priority on cleaning up the Cambodian registry,” Kang said.
Yet another Fairplay magazine article concluded that, “In the final reckoning, it was the responsibility of the Cambodian government as a flag state to monitor the registry. It cannot escape blame for the sordid record of the ships that flew the country’s flag.”