Friday, 21 October 2016

UK and Cambodia: Cambodia Daily letter

Dear Editor

The latest Cambodian malnutrition report in the International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences authored by Pheak Chhoun etc, is horrifying, with 45% of children stunted and 20% of women under age 49 are malnourished, as detailed in The Cambodia Daily last week:

In my UK political campaign “Stop the Pollution. Stop the Corruption, Stop the Construction.” (@timg33) I’ve urged the reinstatement of the UK’s DFID aid budget to Cambodia of c.$20M. And to create UK Parliament APPG group to focus in on UK support for Cambodia and Laos – indeed my UK parliamentary manifesto is the only one ever written in Cambodian too!

With one of the world’s largest aid budgets, and the only G20 nation to achieve the UN target of 0.7% GNI in aid, it’s a small step for the UK to assist Cambodia as one of the world’s poorest nations, from its annual DFID budget of c.$18BN (that’s billions not millions!).

The loss of such aid and LDC status, or even UN insect protein programmes, could only worsen Cambodian malnutrition and open the door back to the dark days of the famines of the 1970’s.

-Cambodia and UNSDG30-

In the 21st century hunger and malnutrition are not only now essentially forbidden under the UNDSDG30 goals, but are not a factor of production and finance, merely transport.

It’s monstrous that Cambodia – and indeed Laos and Myanmar- should be facing hunger again, rather than drowning in a tsunami of ASEAN rice.
While Cambodia must also surely welcome the appointment of Thailand’s dynamic Princess Maha Sirindhorn as UN Ambassador for the UN-FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation, and as a complement to Cambodia’s dynamic royals such as Princess Soma, and her sterling work in promoting Cambodia in USA.

And Khmer rice exports within and from Cambodia – and Thai surplus rice imports or Australian milk to help stave off malnutrition – can only improve with the fast-forward development of rail links and bridges from Bangkok to Battambang and Phnom Penh and then onto HCMC.

-Kent and Cambodia-

While here in Kent, near London, we could easily build stronger links with Cambodia with our 4 universities and 400 schools and dozens of language schools, for exchanges and scholarships - with UK Chevening scholarships already trebled as of last year.

Even heritage and religious links with Canterbury Cathedral and Angkor Wat are viable, and the temples of the Royal Road.

My Surin Village School Charity has already built its first school in Isaan, Thailand and looking to build schools in Battambang and Siem Reap too.

While in my Sincerity Advertising and PR role, it’s clear to me that the alphabet soup of IMF, ADB and UN etc could be even more active on malnutrition with Lucky Iron Fish initiatives with Unilever to prevent anaemic malnutrition or Lifebuoy soap for public health and Pandemic improvements through handwashing.

The Lifebuoy Reach 5 activity is already a huge CSR success in Kenya, simply waiting to be replicated throughout Cambodia.

The newly-opened Sihanoukville port to Phnom Penh railway should also help speed up Cambodia’s rice exports to UK and EU supermarkets and Cambodian silk and clothes to the UK High St.

While Cambodia’s 4M foreign tourists must be a key focus for UK growth with 1M UK tourists – the largest Western group - already visiting nearby Thailand just a short bus or plane – and soon train - trip away.

Surely it’s time for greater activity on UK-Cambodia programmes?

Tim Garbutt is director of Sincerity advertising agency, Surin Village School charity, first school built in Isaan and plans to build 1,000 per year, MP candidate for East Kent to build better relations with Thailand, Cambodia and ASEAN.


Time for Change

Misc points:

* July Updates:

* Working on a misc issues: Magellan Anniversary - Spain and LatAm, Almeria Universities links and Kent-Thai orchids

* Also Solomon Islands cruise ships

* Benelux strategy: Panasonic and Phillips - DNA bathroom mirror

* One Essex Court and Inns fraud: Grabiner, Glick, Hollingworth, Leavor etc

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