Mitch is an International business person, film-maker, community leader, world traveler, public speaker and former candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada
Burger King is deliberately taking advantage of the lack of laws in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
It’s November 30th, 2015 and today is the opening for Burger King here in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The town is also home to the famous ancient temples of Angkor. Today, the Florida based company opened it’s newly built franchise in one of the most disabled countries in the world with absolutely no access for wheelchair users.
The new Siem Reap branch has been constructed in a high-traffic tourist area and is the second international fast-food chain to open in Siem Reap after KFC.
With Burger King’s revenue’s at 1.97 billion dollars in 2012, many wonder why it is so difficult to implement the same accessibility policies they would adhere to in western countries.
The new location is situated on a very busy street. There is a large curb at the entrance that a wheelchair user would not be able to enter without assistance. There is also a steep concrete curb between the street and the restaurant that makes it very dangerous. If a person using a wheelchair was to lose control they would surely wheel right into oncoming traffic.
According to the 2004 Census of the National Institute of Statistics, nearly 5 per cent of the country’s population is disabled. People with disabilities lack equal access to education, training and employment. This constant lack of opportunity alienates the disabled community from fully participating in their communities.
There are no accessibility laws in Cambodia and most venues are not equipped with ramps, handrails or lifts. There are no published guidelines, much less requirements, for accessibility in private or public buildings. The implementation of accessibility policies is undoubtedly expensive and time-consuming. By law, the western fast food chain does not need to meet any accessibility standards it would have to back home.
Accessibility not only affects the dignity of a disabled person but also their effective participation in their community. Cambodians with disabilities are left without the means to move freely and participate in society on an equal basis. This is common in a developing country. However, a multi billion dollar North American business operating in this manner is unacceptable. So much for corporate responsibility.
The Americans With Disabilities Act requires wheelchair access be made available for new buildings in the process of being built. In western countries, it would be impossible for Burger King to open a restaurant in the same fashion we see today in Cambodia.
What kind of example is Burger King setting by not adhering to the laws it would in it’s home country? These actions only perpetuate the cycle of alienating the disabled community instead of leading by example.
I have had many ramps built in Cambodia, and the cost to put a simple ramp would be equivalent to 5 Junior Whoppers. Maybe it’s not aesthetically pleasing for Burger King to have a ramp at their main entrance but this can easily be resolved by painting some pretty logo’s all over it.
I could go on and write about their non accessible washrooms but that may be asking for too much from Burger King. Let’s stick with getting a simple ramp built to start if that helps them move in the right direction.. I am even willing to pay for the ramp at Burger King if they need the help.