6 Public holidays to be cut next year – dates announced

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Monks wait for food offerings last year during Meak Bochea Day, which will no longer be a public holiday. KT/Khem Sovannara

Related Post: Garment association supports public holiday cut

The government has decided to reduce the number of public holidays next year from 28 days to 22 days.

According to a sub-decree issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the six holidays to be cut next year are Meak Bochea Day, National Day of Remembrance, International Children’s Day, Paris Peace Agreement Day, International Human Rights Day and King Norodom Sihamoni’s birthday.

“There will be 22 public holidays in 2020,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Six days were cut.”

However, he said that for Khmer New Year, there will be a four-day public holiday in 2020.

Ek Tha, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, yesterday said Mr Hun Sen made the right move in cutting down the amount of public holidays.

“It is because the government wants the Kingdom to be competitive and attract national and international investments,” Mr Tha said. “It’s so they [citizens] can contribute to the building and development of Cambodia in order for it to be more prosperous.”

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, yesterday said she agreed, but noted that the cutting of Children’s Day and International Human Rights Day could discourage Cambodia’s commitment to value human rights.

People pray on Meak Bochea Day last year. KT/Khem Sovannara

“Allowing people to take these days off will make them learn about the value of their rights and it will make it easier for them to participate in ceremonies,” Ms Sopheap said. “They need the days off because pressure from their workplace will not allow them to join [ceremonies].”

“I understand that this is a chance to rework the holidays and end disagreements over events in the past caused by holidays such as Victory over Genocide Day, Paris Peace Agreement Day, Independence Day and Constitution Day,” she added. “Some could be merged together and be called ‘Independence and National Unity Day’. Then the whole nation can celebrate, not just a certain group of people or civil servants.”

Ms Sopheap said that no matter the public holiday, she wants to see people respect and protect human rights, as well as national reconciliation and independence, which are essential to maintaining peace and development.

Lam Socheat, director of the Advocacy and Policy Institute, yesterday said excessive holidays can discourage competitiveness, but some holidays, such as Human Rights Day and Women’s Rights Day, should be merged.

Keo Remy, president of the Cambodia Human Rights Committee, yesterday said despite International Human Rights Day being cut, people can still mark the occasion.

“We will still celebrate International Human Rights Day on December 10,” Mr Remy said. “Holidays marking freedom of expression is not banned. They were cut because there are many public holidays, as we all know.”

“Investors complained a lot about the amount of public holidays,” he added.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, yesterday said the government should reconsider because the cuts will affect workers.

“I want to request to the government to reconsider which holidays to cut,” Mr Sina said, adding that garment factory workers receive bonuses during public holidays.

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