Cambodia Is Nonetheless Failing Its Disabled Individuals – The Diplomat


The release of Cambodia’s Nationwide Incapacity Strategic Plan 2019-2023 in November supplied but any other instance for fawning. King Norodom Sihamoni lauded the federal government’s “willingness and dedication…to serve individuals with disabilities in Cambodia,” whilst High Minister Hun Sen (who by no means tires of reminding the general public he, too, has a incapacity: a watch misplaced whilst he used to be combating for the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime) boasted of his regime’s success.

However his govt, if truth be told, has for a decade achieved subsequent to not anything about the problem. Sure, some disabled other folks have benefited from broader enhancements to the social safety device, even though many nonetheless pass with out ok state assist. And, in fact, converting public critiques about disabilities is hard, and ensuring the personal sector makes a speciality of the talents of attainable staff, no longer their disabilities, is difficult going even in advanced nations. However chances are you’ll suppose {that a} “keen” and “dedicated” govt would focal point on issues it could actually simply alternate, like who it employs.

In accordance to the High Minister in November, 2,860 disabled individuals are hired by way of the state. If true, it method nearly not anything has modified since 2016, when, as I reported then, there have been 2,460 disabled other folks hired by way of the state. Or, extra correctly, in over 3 years this “dedicated” govt has best hired an additional 440 disabled other folks, in spite of the civil forms ballooning.

One of the appalling sides of the federal government’s disinterest is the truth it can’t even agree on numbers of disabled other folks. The standard govt estimate trotted out is that round two % of the inhabitants is disabled (so round 350,000 other folks), which is far under the 15 % international reasonable recorded by way of the United Countries. Some officers, even though, spoke about 542,000 other folks with disabilities after a national survey in 2017. The provisional estimates of the 2019 census don’t come with figures for disabled other folks.

Then again, in September we noticed Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Formative years Rehabilitation secretary of state Sem Sokh put the collection of disabled other folks at 310,000 – so backpedal to ludicrously low 2 % marker-  whilst ultimate month Minister of Public Works and Delivery Solar Chanthol stated “there are a couple of million disabled individuals”, which is most probably nearer to the reality. Greater than one million, certainly, could be about 15 % of the Cambodian inhabitants, corresponding to the worldwide reasonable.

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How the heck does the federal government intend to help the location when the social affairs ministry reckons the collection of disabled other folks is lower than a 3rd of what the general public works ministry thinks? Greater than that, if Hun Sen’s employment figures are proper, it method the federal government continues to be no longer sticking to its personal laws, one thing disability-rights campaigners and myself were speaking about for years (see: Does Cambodia In reality Care About Its Disabled?). A 2009 sub-decree to the Regulation on Coverage and the Promotion of the Rights of Individuals with Disabilities states that no less than 2 % of the general public sector staff must be made up of other folks with disabilities. However Hun Sen’s estimate in November (2,860 hired) nonetheless places the quantity method under this 2 % mark.

Additionally, state businesses nonetheless haven’t been punished for failing to fulfill this quota. Article 15 of the sub-decree stipulates that fines of 50 % of a civil servant’s per 30 days gross wage could be meted out to state establishments that failed to fulfill their quotas. Again in 2016, I published in an editorial for Southeast Asia Globe that the Individuals with Disabilities Basis, which is meant to gather the fines and sits beneath the keep an eye on of the social affairs ministry, had no longer accumulated one nice in its six years life. In the meantime, I additionally published that the Incapacity Rights Management, additionally beneath the social affairs ministry and tasked with enforcing fines for non-compliance, hadn’t in six years imposed one nice – and, as a workforce member instructed me, didn’t even know the way to head about doing so.

Even those woeful state employment figures are inflated slightly, alternatively, by way of higher get right of entry to to state employment within the towns, which skew the figures national. What occurs within the geographical region, the place nearly all of Cambodians nonetheless are living, is even worse. A survey of greater than 4,000 disabled other folks ultimate 12 months by way of the Cambodian Disabled Folks’s Group (CDPO) discovered that 60 % are living beneath the rustic’s poverty line, and the similar share of disabled youngsters are not able to wait faculties, perhaps as a result of the woeful infrastructure in Cambodia for disabled other folks. As an example, early ultimate 12 months the CDPO reported that there have been best 15 public restrooms with incapacity get right of entry to in the entire of Phnom Penh, the capital.


If the federal government can’t put into effect employment quotas over its personal establishments, must now we have any religion that it is going to follow any requirements over the personal sector? The majority of disabled other folks in employment are, certainly, both self-employed or fund themselves thru Cambodia’s massive casual sector. Ung Sambath, the deputy director of Incapacity Motion Council, beneath the social affairs ministry, used to be quoted ultimate 12 months announcing that of 542,000 disabled other folks recorded in Cambodia in 2014 best 38 % are estimated to be in some type of employment. That share could be greater than halved by way of the extra dependable estimate of greater than one million disabled other folks. An Global Hard work Group file from ultimate 12 months estimated that during Cambodia “girls with disabilities are 19.37 % much less prone to be within the staff than the typical of the inhabitants as a complete, whilst the speed for males is 8.36 issues decrease.” The CDPO ultimate 12 months started paintings on a national database to glue disabled jobseekers with non-public employers.

However the 2009 sub-decree, discussed previous, additionally calls for non-public trade with greater than 100 staff to have least one % in their staff made up of other folks with disabilities. Those who don’t needs to be fined, in line with the legislation, 40 % of an worker’s minimal per 30 days wage till it’s rectified. Once more, no fines were imposed and the present sentiment, even expressed by way of govt officers, is that nobody in reality is aware of about this requirement. And as a substitute of enforcing fines in response to the legislation and cracking down on corporations that don’t meet their quota, all that the social affairs ministry appears to be doing is hand-holding and looking to convince non-public corporations to turn some compassion, like a brand new mission by way of Clutch, the ride-sharing app, to make use of deaf drivers – a pleasing concept, however hardly ever the type of radical measure desperately wanted.

About the author

Mike Butcher

Mike Butcher

Mike is a seasoned journalist with nearly 10 years of experience. While studying journalism at the University of Tennessee, Mike found a passion for finding engaging stories. As a contributor to Daily Research Plot, Mike mostly covers state and national developments.

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