Prime Minister Hun Sen has promised all civil servants and members of the armed forces a $10 Khmer New Year bonus, a move that observers and the opposition characterised yesterday as a welcome, if incomplete, gesture.
“The minister of economy and finance asked my recommendation on two choices: the first choice is everyone has to receive 40,000 riel [about $10], and the second one is for some civil servants to receive 20,000 riel [about $5] and some receive 40,000 riel. I told him to choose the first choice,” he said.
Hun Sen also noted that planned salary increases will go into effect in April as well.
Noun Komnith, a deputy police chief in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district, said he was pleased with the move.
“It is not much money, but it is good and I am happy to receive it, because it is the first time that we will get a bonus,” he said.
However, opposition spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that higher salaries – long a campaign promise of the party – would lead to better government work.
Referring to the still-common practice of policemen and soldiers queuing in front of rich people’s homes to receive Lunar New Year cash handouts, Am Sam Ath, legal adviser for the rights group Licadho, also said that bonuses were a half-measure, and that higher salaries “would be best”.