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Cambodia to reduce public holidays to attract foreign investment

By Elizabeth Shim
Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen is cutting the number of public holidays. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen is cutting the number of public holidays. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Cambodia is reducing the number of public holidays on its calendar to meet national competitiveness goals and the demands of foreign investors, according to multiple press reports.

The ASEAN member state is reducing the current 28 public holidays to 22 days for 2020, Khmer Times and Germany's DPA news agency reported Wednesday.

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"There will be 22 public holidays in 2020," Prime Minister Hun Sen said. "Six days were cut."

According to DPA, Cambodia chose to reduce the number of holidays following complaints from foreign investors.

"It is because the government wants the Kingdom to be competitive and attract national and international investments," said Ek Tha, spokesman for the nation's Council of Ministers on Tuesday. "It's so [citizens] can contribute to the building and development of Cambodia in order for it to be more prosperous."

The decision affecting the number of workdays per year may not have taken Cambodians by surprise. In March, the prime minister had said he could reduce the number of holidays to boost investment in the country.

Cambodia's economy is underdeveloped, compared with most neighboring countries. Its GDP per capita was estimated to be $1,508 in 2018, but the country is also registering rapid growth, about 7 percent annually since 2011.

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The six holidays to be eliminated include International Children's Day, Paris Agreement Day, International Human Rights Day and National Day of Remembrance.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said eliminating International Human Rights Day could discourage the country's support to value human rights.

"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," Sopheap said, according to the Khmer Times.

Cambodia has been rebuilding since the end of Khmer Rouge rule. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, as many as 1.8 million people, or about a quarter of the population, died, often under conditions of torture, from 1975 to 1979.

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