There is possibly no place on earth that thrives more on rumour than Sihanoukville. The always prevalent rumour amongst expats and backpackers is that all of Cambodia runs on corruption and incompetence. Interestingly, it’s usually the expats and backpackers who are here for less-than-admirable reasons and are less-than-competent themselves who buy into and spread these rumours. That’s not to say that corruption and incompetence don’t exist here. Of course they do, but there’s another side to the story as well and that’s the story I try to cover here.
Two news items caught my eye last week. The first one was in the Phnom Penh Post. The title was Talks on for Cambodian tablet and it was about talks between Samsung and the Cambodian government about starting to assemble Android tablets in Cambodia – specifically at the new SEZ (special economic zone) adjacent to the port. This comes hot on the heals of my recent discovery that Ford intends to open an automobile assembly plant at the same SEZ.
The other news item that captured my attention was on a website called Asia Real Estate News. The news brief that attracted my attention began like this:
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s 1st state-owned Special Economic Zone (SEZ), appealing to Japanese investors to put their business ventures in the Zone, local media reported.
That’s not just wishful thinking. So far, pilot efforts to start manufacturing goods other than textiles have been positive. As the PP Post article cited above said:
Rami Sharaf, country manager for RMA Cambodia, which owns the Ford assembly plant, said workers have performed well at the plant after receiving the proper training.
Put all this together with what I reported about in my recent blog, Cambodian Stock Market off to a Good Start about the dredging company that has been awarded the contract to widen and deepen the entry into Sihanoukville Port and things are looking pretty positive for Sihanoukville as I gaze into my Sihanoukville crystal ball.
Of course, you can’t just sweep all those rumours about corruption and incompetence under the carpet, especially when they turn out to have a basis in fact. Illegal logging continues to be a big problem, as does the highly suspicious land grabbing that goes on here. Still, for a country that’s been through all this one has been through, the omens look good for the future.