Cambodia is moving to bar foreigners from performing certain local jobs such as taxi drivers, rickshaw or tuk-tuk drivers, street food vendors, or small business owners.
The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training is planning to put a directive against such self-employment by foreigners in upcoming inter-ministerial discussions in early August, according to labor ministry spokesman Heng Suor on Thursday.
Responding to VOA Khmer’s questions via WhatsApp, Heng Suor said that the directive would ban foreigners from about 10 types of jobs and businesses and would be further submitted for discussions at the Labor Advisory Committee level by mid-August.
Heng Suor did not elaborate on the types of jobs and businesses planned for the discussion. However, he was quoted by the local media as saying that the directive will also ban foreigners from holding human resource management and administrative positions in private enterprises or companies.
More than 160,000 foreigners from 93 countries are working in Cambodia. More than 100,000 foreigners are Chinese nationals while the rest is comprised of mostly Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Malaysian, South Korean, and British nationals.
Khun Tharo, labor coordinator officer for the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (Central), said the government should pay more attention to creating clearer regulation on immigration than imposing a ban on foreigners from taking small jobs and businesses from Cambodians.
“The ban on jobs is not a solution,” he said.
“The important solution is how to make it legitimate for these foreigners to come and work in Cambodia and ensure that [they] are obligated to pay taxes,” he emphasized.
Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), said that the government should follow Thailand and Malaysia in legally banning foreigners from taking local jobs.
“In Malaysia, there is a law that allows foreigners to do businesses or to work. But they must do business or work under that law,” he said.
At the Ministry of Interior, Gen. Kirth Chantharith, director-general of the Department of Immigration, said during the recent launch of the results on foreigners’ census that the ministry is not able to require foreigners to obtain work permits yet as the ministry has to first focus on managing their Cambodian residencies.