Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government criticised for Khmer New Year bonuses

Government criticised for Khmer New Year bonuses

Khoung Sreng (centre) speaks to the press in June 2017 in Phnom Penh. Sreng was recently criticised for giving City Hall employees $100 and two cases of beer for the Khmer New Year.
Khoung Sreng (centre) speaks to the press in June 2017 in Phnom Penh. Sreng was recently criticised for giving City Hall employees $100 and two cases of beer for the Khmer New Year. Hong Menea

Government criticised for Khmer New Year bonuses

City Hall employees have received two cases of beer and $100 each as a Khmer New Year bonus courtesy of Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khoung Sreng, and the city’s budget – sparking criticism from health and road safety organisations.

Met Measpheakdey, spokesman for City Hall, confirmed that each employee had been offered the bonus.

“We have been making an effort to motivate our staff who do their job [by providing incentives] apart from their salary,” he said.

“We motivate them once a year during Khmer New Year, but some news outlets criticised our original good idea to take care of staff. I don’t understand.”

An official in the city’s Finance Department, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the money for the bonuses came from the City Hall budget, but wasn’t able to specify the total amount. The official also said the beer had been sponsored by Cambodia Brewery Limited, which couldn’t be reached for comment.

“I received $100 and two cases of beer,” said Prom Tha, deputy administrative chief at City Hall. “I am happy that our governor is very thoughtful about civil servants. It is coming from the heart of our leader and whether we drink it or not, it’s up to us.”

Tha said district officials were also given one case of beer.

With more than 200 people estimated to die annually on Cambodia’s roads in traffic accidents related to alcohol, the gifts irked organisations pushing road safety. Most of the government’s annual $1.2 million contribution to its road safety action plan is used for safe driving campaigns around major holidays, such as Khmer New Year.

The World Health Organization in Cambodia has also cited harmful consumption of alcohol and tobacco use, among other factors, as increasing risks for noncommunicable diseases.

Heng Sopheab, deputy director at the National Institute for Public Health, said he believed the alcoholic gifts were not appropriate.

“To me, it’s not a good idea to give alcohol as a gift . . . because it leads to many things,” he said. “It’s not good for [people’s] health and it can be linked to driving” under the influence.

Chhea Chhor Daphea, director of the National Centre for Health Promotion, said officials couldn’t ban people from gifting alcohol, but suggested that if they do give beer bonuses they should also convey the message to drink responsibly and to follow the law.

“In many cultures, drinking is part of the entertainment,” Chhor Daphea said. But “not drinking is the best way” to prevent problems.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,