Source: Khmer Times / Tuesday, 19 April 2016 by Pav Suy
Members of civil society, a youth group and communities affected by the Don Sahong hydropower project have called for a boycott of Angkor Beer, claiming the brewer’s parent company Cambrew is funding the controversial project which started in December last year.
“If we drink a can of Angkor beer, we are destroying six million Cambodians living along the Mekong River. Please stop drinking Angkor Beer. Please join us in not consuming Angkor Beer for the lives of those six million people,” said Chum Hout, a representative of local NGO Youth for Social and Environmental Protection.
The 256-megawatt hydropower dam project is being built by Malaysian firm Mega First Corporation (MFCB), whose chairman is Goh Nan Kioh. Mr. Nan Kioh is also a major shareholder in Cambrew, according to Mr. Hout’s group.
Cambrew’s Human Resource Department confirmed Mr. Nan Kioh is part of the company’s leadership.
“Goh Nan Kioh is a leader of Cambrew who is living in Malaysia and only comes to the company office occasionally. For more information about the hydropower dam, you need to wait and ask him yourself. A lot of media asked me about that,” a Cambrew HR representative told Khmer Times.
Environmental analyst and consultant Heng Oudom said that since Angkor Beer derives profits from the Cambodian people, its administrators should respect Cambodian land and the country’s way of life.
“In terms of logic and virtue, Cambodia has one saying: If we drink the water from any pond, we have to be grateful to that pond. This is what I want to reflect to Goh Nan Kioh, who drinks the water in the same pond as Cambodians,” Mr. Oudom said.
“If he earns profits from Angkor Beer from Cambodians, he should be grateful to Cambodia and he should not build a dam that has drawn the ire of Cambodian people. We don’t really want to call for a boycott of Angkor Beer, but we don’t have a choice.
“If Cambrew wants to clear itself, please show us the disconnection between Cambrew and Mr. Goh Nan Kioh,” he added.
A Cambrew staff member who wished to remain nameless said Cambrew and MFCB are two different companies without any connection, but declined to comment further.
The Don Sahong dam will be in Laos less than two kilometers from the Cambodian border and is being built without a proper impact assessment or investigation into the effects it will have on those living along the Mekong River, according to Youth for Social and Environmental Protection. The dam will deplete the dolphin population in the river, harm the fishery industry and cause water pollution, which will affect millions of people living along the river, the group added.
Members of the Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian governments vehemently oppose the project’s continued construction.
Long Sochet, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Fishermen, said the project will cost the Cambodian people their livelihoods because much of the population depends on the river for their income. Since the project’s start, fish harvests have decreased, Mr. Sochet added.
A joint letter signed by Youth for Social and Environmental Protection and the Fisheries Action Coalition Team issued to Cambrew on February 26 listed concerns with the dam project and also called for a boycott of Angkor Beer.
Cambrew responded on March 2.
“We would like to make it clear to you that Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) and Cambrew Ltd are two separate legal entities and have no relationship to one another. Cambrew Ltd is solely involved in the production and distribution of beverages in Cambodia and has no involvement in the Don Sahong hydropower project in Laos at all. Therefore, Cambrew Ltd has no power to request either Mr. Goh Nan Kioh or MFCB to stop the construction of Don Sahong hydropower project,” the response said.