A senior health official and a hospital director in Prey Veng province’s Preah Sdach district who were implicated in corruption and grabbing of state land have been transferred to the provincial health department to work as ordinary staff members as a punishment.
The removal of You Sy Le, director of the Operational Health District of Preah Sdach, and You Sy Na, director of the Preah Sdach District Referral Hospital, were made in an order dated December 24 from the provincial administration. Both officials are siblings.
Their scandal came to light after nearly 200 people, including medical staff, officials and local citizens from Preah Sdech district, all complained about the issue in their December 15 petition to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.
“Provincial health department deputy director Ung Chan Thoeun [replaces You Sy Le] as director of the Operational Health District of Preah Sdach. And Long Vibol is appointed as director of the Preah Sdach District Referral Hospital,” the order stated.
The order did not specify the reasons for the transfer but came after Sar Kheng had assigned the provincial administration to investigate the case.
The December 15 petition accused Sy Le and his partners of encroaching on land and canal at the Angkor Reach Health Centre for private ownership.
The area, measuring 31m by 93m, is located in Krasaing Torng village in Preah Sdach district’s Angkor Reach commune. Sy Le allegedly built a house of seven rooms on the health centre land in order to rent it out at a profit. He also built a fence surrounding the house.
The petition also claimed that Sy Le and his partners had conspired to commit corrupt acts at the district referral hospital.
Chheang Sovannara, office head of the Prey Veng Provincial Administration, told The Post on December 27 that the two officials were caught in the midst of a scandal. But he declined to comment when asked if the provincial administration might take further action against them.
“I don’t know how to answer other than to say that fortunately we had a health department deputy director ready to fill in for his position as a temporary solution,” he said.
According to the petition, Sy Le and his partners had conspired to take the National Social Security Fund that pays for the medical treatment of civil servants, workers, government employees and members of the armed forces since 2018.
The officials had also allegedly been billing for the treatment of “ghost” patients who did not really come to the hospital for treatment and had been gaming the system in other ways to collect money and other benefits to subsidise their personal lives.
The Post could not find any contact information for Sy Le and Sy Na.
Provincial health department director Seng Panharith hung up on a reporter when reached for comment.
Eang Kimly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, told The Post on December 27 that mere removal and transfer was not severe enough punishment given the allegations made against these officials.
According to the law, acts of corruption by government officials and taking state land for private ownership are both criminal offences.
“This case is outrageous and if there is no proper legal action taken involving criminal charges for them, then the officials who dealt with this case and tried to cover it up will be criticised by the public along with the people they are protecting. Because this is the Facebook era and news travels fast on social media,” Kimly said.