The chief of a health centre in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district and four of his staff were questioned by police on Friday after food vendors around the facility complained that officials there had been demanding monthly fees of up to $90 from them, police and vendors said yesterday.
Phsar Doeum Thkov police chief Seng Vannak said health centre chief Srey Ratana, and staffers Eurng Seang Pao, Seng Veasna and Chan Sokha, a construction worker at the health centre, were all questioned and released the same day, despite health officials saying the practice was against protocol. “We just [brought] them in for questioning and now we reached an agreement and we told them not to do it again,” he said.
Chamkarmon district police chief Yin San declined to comment.
Ngy Mean Heng, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department, said the centre’s alleged actions violated regulations. “We never instructed them to take money from people,” he said. “We always tell them [during] meetings not to take money. We just provide health services.”
Nonetheless, Mean Heng insisted no further action need be taken against the staffers.
Tun Sambath, a 34-year-old vendor, said that as of January 1, his fee had shot up to between $80 and $90.
Nget Sokha, a 41-year-old vendor, said she had paid the irregular fees for six years, with her own fee jumping from $30 to $50. “We cannot keep silent,” she said.