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Khmer Krom Unlikely To Benefit in Asean Integration, Advocate Says

  • Poch Reasey

Mr. Chau Serey, Vice President of the Khmers ‪‎Kampuchea Krom ‬Federation in the United States. (Courtesy of Prey Nokor News)

Mr. Chau Serey, Vice President of the Khmers ‪‎Kampuchea Krom ‬Federation in the United States. (Courtesy of Prey Nokor News)

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom ethnic minority, which lives in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, is unlikely to benefit from the wider integration of Asean, a representative of the group says.

Chau Serey, vice president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation, told “Hello VOA” Thursday that most Khmer Krom are poor farmers with few skills and few prospects.

They will be unable to work at the skilled jobs that Asean integration will open up, he said. “Therefore, it is no use to them.”

A man shows the map of Kampuchea Krom or “Lower Cambodia” during a demonstration to demand an apology from the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, Monday, July 21, 2014. (Suy Heimkhemra/VOA Khmer)

A man shows the map of Kampuchea Krom or “Lower Cambodia” during a demonstration to demand an apology from the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, Monday, July 21, 2014. (Suy Heimkhemra/VOA Khmer)

The farmers would benefit instead from open rice markets, allowing them to sell at better prices. Currently, they must sell their rice to the Vietnamese government, at low prices following the harvest.

“Some can’t even break even,” he said. “Some have had to sell their farms and move to Ho Chi Minh City.”

He urged the Vietnamese government to change its practices and to help Khmer Krom with economic develop. Otherwise, Asean integration will do little for them, he said.

Meanwhile, many Khmer Krom have had difficulty obtaining the identification cards that would help them live and work in Cambodia, he said. That means they won’t be able to work abroad under integration, either.

“When the Khmer Krom people move to Cambodia, they hope the Cambodian government can help them get an ID card, so they can find a decent job,” he said. “Unfortunately, they don’t receive much help. We have several Khmer Krom organizations in Cambodia that help people apply for ID cards. In the past, it was very hard to get one, but now it’s a little bit better. I still urge the government to help our Khmer Krom people more.”

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