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Lost Opportunities as Cambodian Labor Goes Abroad: Advocate

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a mushroom farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang.

Even with an improved domestic job market, many Cambodian workers are seeking jobs overseas, despite the risks.

This is mainly due to the government’s failure to get the word out, Moeun Tola, a labor advocate at the Community Legal Education Center, told “Hello VOA” Thursday.

“We see a lot of job opportunity in Cambodia these days,” he said. “The problem is, how many people know about the jobs?”

Cambodia has just five job centers nationwide, he said, but people still don’t know much about them.

The main job creators in Cambodia are in agriculture, industry and tourism, but policymakers have looked at the export of labor as a way to ease employment pressure.

Critics say there are not enough protective measures in place to help Cambodian workers when they get overseas, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.

Prime Minister Hun Sen last year put a moratorium on the export of domestic servants to Malaysia, where numerous reports of abuse originated, and a temporary closure the nation’s labor recruitment companies.

Moeun Tola said Cambodia needs to bring more investors in to create more jobs at home. This can be done through strengthening the rule of law, he said.

“Our laws are as good or better than some Asean countries, but our implementation is very bad and not at an acceptable level,” he said.

But he also warned against lowering wages to bring in more companies, which he said would worsen conditions for workers.