Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MoU ‘holding up’ donation



MoU ‘holding up’ donation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Medical students learn to operate at the University of Health Sciences in Phnom Penh last year. A shipment of medical equipment bound for Cambodia has been stalled after the Health Ministry failed to agree on an MoU with Cambodian-American doctor and oknha Quach Mengly. Athena Zelandonii

MoU ‘holding up’ donation

Millions of dollars’ worth of medical equipment bound for Cambodia has allegedly been stalled thanks to a contested memorandum of understanding sought by outspoken doctor and oknha Quach Mengly.

In an interview yesterday, Mengly clarified comments he made on his Facebook page earlier this week, saying he was seeking an MoU for the tax-free import of 20 to 30 surgical beds, costing some $250,000 apiece, which he said were donated by a Swiss organisation and destined for government hospitals.

“I notice the Ministry of Health, they said they did not receive any statement; it is not true. We have received a verbal rejection,” Mengly said.

The Ministry of Health on Tuesday released a statement saying it had “never received” an MoU request from Mengly or his eponymous foundation, but Mengly yesterday claimed the government was mistaken. “I do not believe it is the policy of the ministry or the intent of the government, I believe it might be an individual who is still holding a grudge.”

Mengly referred to strident critiques he made of Cambodia’s dire health care system in the past. In an interview with Post Khmer in January last year, for instance, he said, “If poor people go to the hospital, I guarantee that they will sleep on the street.”

Mengly said he has plans to open a medical clinic behind the Russian Hospital in Phnom Penh but has not yet lodged an application. He said he had received a warning from a messenger inside the ministry, whom he declined to name, saying “don’t count on the licence”.

“We were told it is most likely we will not get it, for the simple reason it is under my name,” he said. He added that it would be a “shame” for an individual to block his efforts to develop the country’s health care system and stressed that the government had supported his endeavours in the past.

Mengly was also concerned that the routine upgrade of his membership to the Cambodian Medical Council had not been renewed since last October, which could leave him in legal limbo and have a domino effect on his charity projects.

Ministry of Health spokespeople did not respond to multiple requests for comment over the last two days, but the Tuesday statement urged Mengly “to respect the law”.

Opposition lawmaker Ke Sovannaroth, head of the National Assembly’s health commission, urged the Ministry of Health to ensure an MoU application had not been misplaced.

“It would be helping Cambodia, so they should provide him [the MoU] despite his past [statements]. He has the resources to help,” she said.

Her views were echoed by San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability-Cambodia.

“I think the Ministry of Health reaction should be more accountable by checking or investigating if there was any possible delay on the application,” he said, adding he had no doubt the case was tinged by Mengly’s past critiques.

In an about-face yesterday afternoon, Mengly asked The Post to drop the story in a bid to put an end to the sensitive issue and prevent any friction with the government.

“On the record, I do not approve of or accept responsibility for what is published today,” he said last night.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and