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PM threatens to fire governor if Vietnam border market fails

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen inspects wares sold at the border market. KT/Khem Sovannara

Prime Minister Hun Sen has threatened to strip the Tboung Khmum governor of his position if the latter fails to properly run a market launched this week in the border with Vietnam.

Speaking yesterday at the inauguration ceremony of Da market, a model market built along the Cambodia-Vietnam border, Mr Hun Sen told Provincial Governor Cheam Chan Sophorn that he must ensure the market is a success story.

The governor was told he will be removed from his position if he fails to meet the premier’s expectations.

“Customs and immigration officers must not disrupt the activities of people who are running businesses at the market,” Mr Hun Sen said. “If they are disrupted, market vendors will take their businesses elsewhere and that’s not ok.”

“This could be an opportunity for some to engage in drug trafficking and other criminal activity in the corridor. This is why you must work hard on this issue,” he added.

Mr Hun Sen stressed the importance of Da market as the first border market of many to come. “This is a model market. If it doesn’t work, plans for other markets will see no progress. The governor must be very clear about this.”

“If you fail, you will lose your position,” Mr Hun Sen told the governor.

Mr Hun Sen noted that Da market is located at the site of a former battlefield where he fought on more than 20 occasions.

Mr Chan Sophorn yesterday said he was aware of the importance of the market, adding that the provincial administration was working with the Ministry of Commerce to ensure the project benefits both countries.

“Cambodian and Vietnamese officials will meet before and after the inauguration of the market to ensure the smooth progress of the market,” he said.

Mr Chan Sophorn noted that trade between Tboung Khmum province and Vietnam reached $1.2 billion in 2019, compared to $970 million last year.

Mr Chan Sophorn was appointed governor of Tboung Khmum province in November 2018, replacing Ly Leng, who moved to a new position at the Senate. Before his appointment, Mr Chan Sophorn was the deputy governor of Battambang province.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, yesterday said the government should have a clear trade strategy for the market and must ensure provincial authorities implement it.

“If there is a plan, officials will follow it. If they failed to do so, they should be punished,” he said. “I hope officials at either side of the border will work together to come up with a clear strategy.”

The market covers an area of nearly two hectares and it is approximately 300 metres from the Cambodia-Vietnam border. Construction began in 2018 at a cost of nearly $2 million, which was funded by the Vietnamese government.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung yesterday said the market represents efforts from both nations to boost economic cooperation.

“I strongly believe that the market will contribute to poverty reduction and improve the livelihood of our citizens,” he said. “I would like to ask relevant ministries and institutions of the two countries to continue working together to realise the full potential of the market.”

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