Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged Cambodian tycoons to purchase helicopters for personal use to facilitate their business and to also help the government rescue people when natural disasters occur.
Speaking at the opening of the Vattanac Capital building in Phnom Penh on Saturday, Mr Hun Sen said that wealthy businesspeople should buy helicopters for their personal use because they also could help the government when flooding occurs.
“Oknhas should spend some money to buy helicopters,” he said. “It does not mean that I want you to be helicopter riders, but the government will also get benefits when all of you buy them to use in the country.”
“You should use it because it saves time, and when the government needs to intervene in flooding and other disasters, we can borrow those helicopters,” he added. “You should buy one because it costs about $4 to $5 million dollars.”
Mr Hun Sen noted that the Royal Cambodian Air Force will help provide training to pilots who would use the helicopters in times of emergency need.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said yesterday that the government should consider legal aspects thoroughly before permitting wealthy businesspeople to own helicopters because some of them lacked morality.
“To encourage them to use helicopters for helping the government, I think that the government should be independent to help the people,” Mr Chey said.
Tycoon Ly Yong Phat, president of L.Y.P Group Co, welcomed Mr Hun Sen’s remark, saying that he was considering it.
“It is simple to buy a helicopter, but the important thing is that we do not have pilots,” he said. “That’s what we are concerned about. Now I have not yet planned to buy one, but maybe in the future.”
“It is good for businesspeople to save their time and currently, there are a lot of cars which make it difficult to travel,” he added. “Helicopters can improve the private sectors and help respond to the people’s needs right away when the government asks for assistance.”
Keo Sivorn, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said that according to the law, helicopters could be permitted to be used personally, but so far there are no licensed personal helicopters.
However, two companies provide helicopter services to customers.
“Now we do not have private helicopters, but companies operate the service,” Mr Sivorn said. “It saves time. It is fast and safe.”