Hun Manet Meets Xi Jinping, Casino Regulators Double Down, U.N. Caught in Temple Turf War
Good morning, Cambodia. It's Friday, September 15, and this is your Weekly Dispatch.
BIG IDEAS: Tourism officials launched a 100-day plan to lure visitors for the high season in October. Yet even the most optimistic projections only reach about 75% of the pre-Covid benchmark.
STREET EDGE: Police in Kampot are enforcing a 2 a.m. curfew to stop a rash of brutal gang battles, with many attackers wielding knives and machetes. Other provinces have reported similar violence.
GOING BUST: The number of licensed casinos in the Kingdom has dropped from more than 200 in 2021 to only 87. Smaller outfits have been forced out by tougher rules and higher taxes.
The Kingdom’s messy land rights battles are spilling into global view.
Amnesty International has petitioned U.N. cultural authorities to intervene in mass evictions underway at Angkor Archeological Park, where authorities have removed more than 2,000 families since November, with thousands more under notice.
Amnesty is pressuring the World Heritage Committee, which meets this month, to demand a halt to the evictions. A draft decision glosses over the issue. A final report is expected in the coming weeks.
Anti-trafficking officials say the U.S. is giving short shrift to Cambodia’s fight against the cyber scam industry — and they want some credit.
The National Committee for Counter Trafficking accused Washington of working hand-in-hand with civil society groups while ignoring the government's hard work. The committee urged the U.S. to join forces with national authorities and share American technology and expertise.
Allies are waiting for signs the new administration will do more than previous leaders to tackle the problem.
The ambitious 8-point strategy calls for drastic improvements in marketing, infrastructure and human resources, with a focus on culture, history, food and ecotourism. The ministry is aiming for 5 million international arrivals this year, or about 75% of the pre-Covid record set in 2019.
The Kingdom faces an uphill battle, experts say, as it will struggle to compete against the region’s top two destinations, Thailand and Vietnam, while big-spending Chinese tourists — long an industry mainstay — may never return.
Hun Manet, on his first official state visit as prime minister, will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during a three-day trip to Beijing. The two are expected to discuss Chinese investment in Cambodia and the growing rift with the U.S.
Dr. Damian Evans, the renowned archeologist whose research transformed the understanding of Angkor, passed away in Paris after a two-year battle with cancer. Evans used aerial laser surveys to reveal the ancient city to be “a work of geoengineering on an unparalleled scale.”
Investors called on Nike to pay $1.4 million to more than 1,200 Cambodian factory workers. The Workers Rights Consortium, a U.S. nonprofit, reported that Violet Apparel had dismissed workers with less than a week’s notice and without full benefits, including damages for being dismissed without cause. Nike has denied the accusations.
The number of casinos operating in the Kingdom has plunged to 87 from more than 200 in 2021, when laws were passed requiring a minimum $100 million investment. The figure is expected to drop further as regulators target non-compliant gaming halls.
Kampot police ordered a 2 a.m. curfew for “unruly” youth after a spate of violent clashes between groups of young men, often fighting with knives and machetes. Delinquents caught after curfew will be held overnight and released to their parents. Authorities are facing similar issues in several provinces.
A man who criticized the Agriculture Ministry on social media was hospitalized after an attack by four baton-wielding assailants. The assault happened a few hours after the critic, an agribusiness owner, blasted Minister of Agriculture Dith Tina. Police are investigating.
Three dozen monks led a prayer ceremony to banish evil spirits from a deadly intersection on National Road 5 in Kampong Chhnang. The local police commissioner said the highway badly needed traffic lights, but his department lacked the funding. Discussions are underway with a Japanese non-profit for assistance.
BACK PAGES: From The Cambodia Daily Vault
September 15, 2003
Sporting a T-shirt with the logo of Taiwanese pop-music group F4, Visoth Visara, a 17-year-old student at Sisowath High School, is enjoying a cup of coffee with his friends at a cafe north of the US Embassy.
September 13, 2003
Soldiers arrested two US citizens and 36 men claiming to be members of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom National Liberation Front in Banteay Meanchey province’s Thma Puok district on Thursday night, police and military officials said on Friday.
September 11, 2003
The city plans to start catching stray dogs and delivering them to a pound, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said Wednesday. He also encouraged residents to eat more dog meat.
Photos: Temples, public domain. Hun Manet, Facebook.
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