10 years anniversary of Koh Pich Bridge Tragedy and the Behind Tycoon

Posted by: | Posted on: November 22, 2020

Comment: A death to make tragedy for a man in poverty, but an opportunity to make profit for a man in business

Pung Sovann aliased Pung Kheav Se, born 1946 in Phnom Penh turned a merchant of deaths in Koh Pich

A death to make tragedy for a man in poverty, but an opportunity to make profit for a man in business

by Kok Sap 24/11/2010
“I am not surprised with Pung Kheav Se’s generosity; it’s all about business as usual in Cambodia nowadays.”

Today Radio Free Asia reported the stampede casualties are higher. Officially the total death is 456 and injured 395. Let’s hope it is the number with no more changes. In light of such tragic event on 22/11/2010 including the officials and relevant authorities seemed to focus on the aftermath and none would raise the concern on the bridge liability and responsibility to the mass. Also it appears folks are quick to focus on the results of the events rather than the relativities. So far the public believe the causes are:
• The bridge is too narrow to hold hundreds of people in same time,
• The bridge is in the suspending mode which it could move without warning due to the speed of the wind and impact of the mass,
• The bridge designed for quick commute not as a platform to hold immobile weight for extensive duration,
• The bridge provided no emergency safety and evacuation path.

For Cambodia society not to say there is no insurance regulatory, insurance coverage for anything sounds as strange as the globe is round consisted of more than 70% liquid and spinning on its own axis. But in modern commercial investment regardless of size, in international common practice, the owner or responsible party must and shall have the liability and owner casualty insurance secured before it can fully operate. To ensure public safety and trust in commerce, the government regulatory and compliance must also be accountable in regulations. So for a shrewd and cunning man like Pung Kheav Se, for sure he is not risking his businesses without proper insurance coverage. First it is to protect his personal assets from unwanted lawsuit and inadvertent business liability and second it is to safeguard him from relevant tax entities in his domicile abroad. However, no one knows for sure how much the owner of Koh Pich Bridge and bridge is insured for? If all insured, with whom, what and which company from where?

To date, people know only the owner of Canadia Bank Plc of Cambodia is Mr.Pung Kheav Se who owns Koh Pich Bridge and the inlet land. Strangely before the final casualties confirmed, Koh Pich owner offers $1,000 to each dead victim beneficiary. In total it would amount to $456,000. But no one knows whether he would pay the same amount to the injured ones. Presumably let’s say he would pay the same and the amount would be $395,000. Until now it’s unclear, he doesn’t say he will pay for the several hospitals emergency cares and funeral services provided for the victims. That not to mention what will be the fine and penalty fees that may be deemed by the public safety ordinance violations.

So far in grand total he would pay $815,000. That will be a lot of money for the Cambodia’s $0.50 per day standard. But for the owner of a bank chain that is especially backed by government and known international bodies, the amount is insignificant. It is also not quite right to assume Pung Kheav Se is giving his own money to the victims.
To begin with, he is in the banking business is to make profit, not donation. Beside given the degree of support and collaboration from relevant and corruptive government officials, we don’t know to what exactly figures that he will put in claim for damage and casualty for Koh Pich Bridge and land holder business loss for the reimbursement from the insurance coverage. He has Cambodia government in his under pant pocket for 24/7. Nevertheless for certain at the end of the day so many officials in the finance and economy or commerce ministries will receive a share in kick back pay when the business transaction is a done deal.

The government official included prime minister did not raise concern to account the financial liability and responsibility of the bridge owner. The families of victims immediate concern is how they can afford the funeral and transporting the dead home. Other hands the victims, in despair, would accept and take anything that made available to them.
From his interview with Cambodia News on 23/6/2010, Pung Kheav Se is no patriotic sentimental fool. He said,” In 1993 the Governor of the Bank of Cambodia approached me requesting me to formally transform my trust company into a bank as it was growing so fast. Although our initial capital was not enough, the Governor (who?) told me we could start already with 1.5 million USD. As we had a lot of depositors and also plenty of Cambodians from overseas trusting in our bank, we managed to grow and currently my bank’s total assets amounting of 174 million USD. In deposits we have 150 million and our reserve in 2002 totals 18 million USD. Currently my deposits are about 26% of the whole country’s deposits and our loans are about 32% of country’s total.” Read more at:

Presently with his partners Mrs. Lim Sophany, Mr. Phuong Khinh Hoa, Mr. Mao Khan, Mr. Tol Hak and he hold more than $230 million in assets and cash. Canadia oversees numerous projects in the kingdom.
In essence unlike others, his return in 1991 to Cambodia is driven by the profit to be made out of Cambodia Central Bank and those ex-pats living abroad. To the ears, it’s clear like a bell. With that in mind, it would be a surprise in such a tragic event that Mr.Pung Kheav Se will not reap benefits from it. I would also wonder if his insurance claim will not reflect all of his cash offering to victims. His insurance company in Canada or any place else will have no easy time to not justify his reimbursement. As we know Mr. Pung Kheav Se is no extra-ordinaire humanitarian whose interests driven by the benevolence to protect Cambodia poor peoples.

Phnom Penh government let Canadia Bank signed agreement with IFC and USAID in its behalf then to be a legitimate conduit in money transferring from overseas accounts. Simply say, Pung Kheav Se is no small potato in the kingdom. He was dining and wining among top government officials in Phnom Penh. Many of them receive profits from his business deals. Koh Pich evicted landowners remember him well. With the help from the Council of Ministers Koh Pich is cleared and developed into his fiefdom.

The Canadia Bank reputation was not positive around 1994’s or so. Investors in Phnom Penh said Canadia Bank owner had fronted as foreign stocks exchange broker to lure merchants from local markets to short buy or sell stocks without guaranty. Because Canadia Bank claimed losses in stocks trade subsequently many of them lost capital over night. Then they can’t fight the Canadia illegal manipulation because it had the Cambodia’s Central Bank protection. In US and Canada, many stocks brokers from that era were faced many class action suits. By this time the settlements were in distribution to the plaintiffs. Oddly no way to tell if Pung Kheav Se was not one of the beneficiaries and plaintiffs since his home is also in Canada.

For all the concerns, the truth and rights advocates may need to look into this Cambodian investor from Canada obscure background. From what made known, this man entered Canada under Pung Sovann, a Khmer identity. He left Cambodia for Canada in 1980. No one knew under what status he entered Canada then. Whether the status is legal or questionable it is only the Canadian immigration agency would know. Better yet, all the victims and relevant interests shall challenge Koh Pich bridge owner in court. They shall demand the court to withhold insurance coverage payment from the bridge owner. The insurance compensatory reward shall go straight to each victim’s beneficiary. This is to see how independent the judicial systems in Cambodia are , thereby class action suits shall be filed by the victim families against the bridge owner for failing to provide sufficient emergency safety and evacuation paths on the bridge. The ownership of the bridge shall be reverted to the government appropriate authority controlling the toll collection to maintain the bridge.
According to Phnom Penh Post,in 1993 the National Central Bank was under Comrade #100 of KPP Thor Peng Leath management,an infidel of Sino-descent,who was later fired from his job in mid 1995 due to his involvement in scandals and money laundering.

Original source for your reference: khmerlogue

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