Forget Pol Pot, Just Send the Money

Article excerpt

In one of the most daunting business assignments in recent years, the Shandwick public relations group has been appointed adviser to the government of Cambodia.

The country is still largely associated in many Westerners' minds with the "killing fields" of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Three months ago the bodies of three tourists kidnapped by the Khmer Rouge - Mark Slater, 28, from Britain, David Wilson, 29, from Australia and Jean-Michel Baraquet, 27, from France - were found 95 miles south of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Shandwick's chairman and chief executive, Peter Gummer, said: "It's a fairly unusual account, but the joy is that it's a recently democratised nation. I am fascinated by what PR can do in attracting investment to underdeveloped countries, and those that have had specific image problems, like Northern Ireland."

The Cambodian authorities are understood to be jealous of the international plaudits lavished on the once-outcast Vietnam, visited last week by Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Last week Shandwick took Vichit Ith, the secretary- general of the Cambodian Investment Board, around London to meet Department of Trade and Industry officials, MPs, the Confederation of British Industry and the London Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Ith said: "This is the first contact we are establishing with the UK. After 25 years of upheaval, Cambodia is back in the world community. …