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Authorities Present Evidence of External Financial Support and Orders for NagaWorld Protests

PHNOM PENH: The Phnom Penh Municipal Police held a press conference on Tuesday morning on the six NagaWorld workers union members who were arrested on New Year’s Eve for their involvement in the close to three weeks of strikes and protests outside NagaWorld. These protests began in December in response to the termination of more than 1,300 NagaWorld workers last year due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has also decided to charge a total of at least nine protestors for causing disturbances to social security under Articles 494 and 495 of the Penal Code of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

At the Tuesday morning press conference, the Phnom Penh Municipal Police presented evidence of financial reports, voicemails and plans from foreign and domestic organizations that supported the organization of protests by NagaWorld workers. According to the Deputy Commissioner for Security Planning of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, Major General Bun Sosikha, authorities found that tens of thousands of dollars had been transferred to Chhim Sithar to support workers to continue protesting in front of NagaWorld.

The Deputy Commissioner stated that the leader of the protests, Chhim Sithar, wrote in a group chat that she would destroy NagaWorld if she was fired and the company did not accept her back to work. He continued that there are only six leaders in this group, and that if NagaWorld was to close the that would mean that more than 8,000 of the company’s current employees would be unemployed. He continued that Sithar received the transferred money and planned to erase the evidence. The Municipal Police believe that this acts as proof that this money is black money.

The Deputy Commissioner further stated that the demonstrations in front of NagaWorld had an organized network and order consisting of demonstrators and outside commanders. He urged former NagaWorld employees who were still on strike to stop the strike and join the Ministry of Labor to find a solution.

The Deputy Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Seng Heang, said at the press conference that the court's investigation has found that the NagaWorld protests were organized under the auspices of those behind the riots to create chaos for Cambodian social security. He stated that the court believes that the protestors received foreign subsidies to cause unrest in the country, which the authorities have assessed is enough evidence to send to continue the legal process in court.

The Deputy Prosecutor continued that at present, six people involved in inciting serious chaos to social security, namely Chhim Sokhorn, Ry Sovandy, Son Srey Pich, Hay Sopheap, Khleang Soben and Touch Srey Meas, have been detained, and the court has released arrest warrants for three other people, namely Chhim Sithar, Sok Narith and Sok Kongkea.

On Monday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Police arrested 17 people in connection with the protests, who are currently being held for questioning. Phnom Penh Municipal Police spokesman, San Sokseiha, confirmed that if the authorities found clear evidence that the 17 people were involved in causing disturbances to social security, the authorities will send them to court for further legal procedures.

It is the 17th day that former NagaWorld workers continue to protest in front of the casino in Daun Penh district, Phnom Penh, to demand that the company respect labor laws and accept them back to work and also pay them the appropriate compensation. Until now, the dispute between the company and the workers has not yet found a resolution, despite mediation from the Phnom Penh Administration and the Ministry of Labor.

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