Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey on Monday denied the Cambodian Informal Economic Workers Association’s request to protest at the Poipet border with Thailand to demand its reopening.
CIEWA chief, Din Puthy, sent a letter to the Banteay Meanchey governor to ask for the right to stage a protest from June 1 to June 7, involving about 1,500 protesters and 100 carts at the Poipet-Khlong Luk border
Mr Reatrey replied the provincial administration would not allow the association to stage the protest because mass gatherings are not allowed under current COVID-19 containment measures.
Mr Reatrey said the provincial authorities asked Thailand if they could allow 20 Cambodian vendors to cross into Thailand to allow them access to the markets where they could sell their produce. According to Mr Reatrey, Thailand denied the request.
Mr Puthy, however, said his association had asked all Cambodian vendors be allowed to cross the border to sell their goods in Thailand, beginning June 1.
He added that if Thailand does not open its border, the association has asked the provincial authority to close the border to Thai trucks and not allow them into Cambodia.
“Cambodian vendors, who usually sell their goods at Rong Kluea market, are very concerned as they cannot access the market and a lot of their stock is perishable.
“Their goods will not keep fresh for an extended period of time. Therefore, the longer they wait, the more likely it is they will not be able to sell their produce. This could have massive financial implication for sellers,” said Mr Puthy.
He added opening the border is the best solution for both Cambodians and Thais, especially with the new measures implemented, such as temperature checks and alcohol spray, which should keep sellers and buyers safe from the virus.
However, Mr Puthy said after receiving the letter from the governor, he has stopped all plans to lead the protests and is hoping for another solution.
“The association will not lead or take part in the protest, but I don’t know about the vendors. They may still protest as it is their right,” he said.
The Thai-Cambodian border has been closed for crossing since March to halt the spread of COVID-19.