Seng Lim Nou, undersecretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said earlier this week that the new International Shipping Registry of Cambodia opened its new office on March 28 and has registered about 20 vessels already.
He also said that the registry’s predecessor, the fallen Cambodian Shipping Corp, is withholding the rolls of ships it registered that should now be transferred to ISROC.
ISROC is a subsidiary of the South Korean-based Cosmos Group that was awarded the contract to run the registry by the Council of Ministers. Largely because of a lack of transparency surrounding the partnership, critics have voiced doubts locally and abroad that the government and Cosmos are sincere about repairing Cambodia’s tattered reputation in ports around the world.
Cosmos’ ISROC representative, Li Li, said Wednesday that she only recently has been appointed to her position and that although she has been at work for several weeks, her office is not officially open. She declined to answer any further questions.
As for the former CSC, Seng Lim Nou said Tuesday that the outfit has now established itself running another open registry in landlocked Mongolia.
“Now, a lot of problems for Cosmos,” Seng Lim Nou said, referring to CSC’s not cooperating with the registry’s new steward.
He also said the Ministry of Interior is investigating CSC’s business dealings. “Within seven to eight years [CSC] paid our government only $300,000. But Cosmos could pay us more than $1 million a year,” he said.
Chea Vandeth, an adviser to Minister of Cabinet Sok An at the Council of Ministers, said that the CSC will have to hand over the registration records as it is the property of the government.
But the focus of the Council of Ministers is now on the future, he said. “We are trying to recover our reputation. As you know, it is a very bad reputation,” he said.
Chea Vandeth also said that the the registry is doing away with online registration, which was widely criticized for drawing shady customers wary of background checks. The registry will thoroughly investigate potential ship owners, he said.
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