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

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon

  • Migrant workers set to return from Malaysia

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that 158 Cambodian students and migrant workers will fly home from Malaysia on Friday morning. This is the second flight to bring Cambodians home from Malaysia. A ministry notice said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH754 will

  • Cambodia to remain neutral on ASEAN-China territorial dispute

    Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn told an informal meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on Wednesday that Cambodia will stay neutral on the South China Sea. He appealed to all stakeholders to continue fostering a conducive environment that contributes to the end

  • Keeping it riel, Cambodia steps up de-dollarisation

    The economic downturn has supplied the National Bank of Cambodia with an opportunity to step up its agenda to return the shine on the riel while coping with Covid-19 challenges Late May, an instruction by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to financial institutions to

  • ANA finds ancient Sanskrit inscription

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has found a Sanskrit inscription carved on ancient stone. The inscription was discovered on the underside of a stone on Wednesday, in front of the Tonle Snguot temple which workers were cleaning. Archaeologist and Apsara Authority deputy-director Im Sok Rithy