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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP eyes health checkup

Health Minister Mam Bunheng at a meeting at the National Assembly in early 2015.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng at a meeting at the National Assembly in early 2015. Pha Lina

CNRP eyes health checkup

Opposition lawmakers have requested Health Minister Mam Bunheng appear at the National Assembly to answer questions over graft, irregularities and poor services within his portfolio, including claims that officials from the National Malaria Centre misappropriated cash from the Global Fund.

In a letter dated December 1, the CNRP asks the prime minister to allow the health minister to appear before parliamentarians on Thursday. The document states they intend to grill Bunheng in person over a number of issues, including poor services in public hospitals, unlicensed clinics and the distribution of medicine and equipment.

They also plan to confront the minister about the selling of public facilities – including its old headquarters in Phnom Penh – and cash milked from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by officials from the malaria centre.

Reached yesterday, Bun Heng said he knew “nothing” about the summons or the questions it raised.

Chhay said he hoped the minister’s answers to lawmakers would be more comprehensive. “He is a minister; if he knows nothing, this is a problem,” Chhay said.

“We’ll wait to see his answers, if he says he knows nothing like this in the National Assembly, we will judge what to do next.”

In 2013, it was found two top officials received $410,000 in kickbacks for handing out million-dollar procurement contracts paid for by the multibillion-dollar Global Fund.

More recently in May, the Post revealed unit heads at the malaria centre had again misappropriated donor funds by doling out contractor jobs to numerous family members, who then filed at-times fraudulent expense reports to claim per diems.

No one has been prosecuted in either case, though the ministry in June called for closer oversight of contract employees and acknowledged “inappropriate phenomena” in paperwork filed by mid-level officials.

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