Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM courts cyclo drivers with free health care, new preservation foundation




PM courts cyclo drivers with free health care, new preservation foundation

A cyclo driver waits for a fare in Phnom Penh yesterday. In a speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen said cyclo drivers would receive access to free health care.
A cyclo driver waits for a fare in Phnom Penh yesterday. In a speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen said cyclo drivers would receive access to free health care.

PM courts cyclo drivers with free health care, new preservation foundation

Prime Minister Hun Sen today announced plans to offer free health care to cyclo drivers and to form a foundation to help preserve them as a tourist attraction, despite cyclo drivers already receiving free medical services – an initiative coordinated by the association that already promotes their conservation.

Hun Sen’s comments came during a speech before some 13,000 factory workers in Russey Keo district. Cyclo drivers are the latest group the premier is trying to woo with free medical care ahead of the national election in July, having promised the same services to thousands of garment workers and all employees, including foreigners.

“We [will] start to form the foundation to support them as a tourist attraction . . . and help the cyclo workers,” he said, adding he would assign Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khoung Sreng to create the foundation’s bylaws.

Hun Sen pledged to personally contribute 100 million riel, or about $25,000, for the establishment of the foundation, and an additional 10 million riel, or about $2,500, every month. In 2011, the premier claimed his $13,800 annual salary was his sole source of income.

Like other informal workers, cyclo drivers will be required to have a proper card in order to obtain the services at any public hospital.

Cyclo Conservation and Career Association Executive Director Im Sambath said cyclo workers already receive free health care for serious conditions following a 2011 agreement with Samdech Ov Hospital in Phnom Penh.

But, he said, Hun Sen’s promise will make accessing care for less serious conditions more “open” for all cyclo drivers.

“We need to help the cyclo drivers’ welfare,” he said, adding they were among the poorest of the poor.

There are 200 cyclo drivers in Phnom Penh and a total of 400 cyclos, Sambath said, adding the association already works to preserve the trade as a tourism draw.

Sambath will meet with Sreng today to further discuss the new benefits, and the association will also seek pensions and land to store the cyclos.

Chum Sopha, executive director of the NGO Health and Development Alliance, said the health benefits should have been offered years ago.

“I think this is a political campaign,” he said. “It’s not really a service relief for the poor.”

Updated: Thursday 4 January 2017, 8:34am

MOST VIEWED

  • Man Covid-19 positive after Thailand trip

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday reported the third Covid-19 case in less than two weeks, bringing the total to 125. The man, a 26-year-old from Tbong Khmum province's Tbong Khmum district, arrived at the O'Beichoan border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province on Thursday. He is

  • Kingdom's GDP growth to narrow -1% to -2.9%, World Bank says

    The World Bank expects further recoil on Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to between minus one per cent and minus 2.9 per cent for 2020 as its main growth drivers – tourism, manufacturing exports and construction – take a beating due to Covid-19, its latest economic update

  • Vietnam: Tougher sentences for child abusers

    Several National Assembly (NA) deputies in Vietnam are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down to child abusers. They hope stricter punishments will act as a strong deterrent to prevent offenders committing further offences in the future. Extreme measures such as chemical castration were

  • Central bank to shun small US banknotes

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is considering not accepting smaller denominated US dollar banknotes – $1, $2 and $5 – from banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) which it said are flooding its stockpile as the demand for those notes is low. While some banking insiders welcomed the move as

  • PM lauded in Covid-19 fight

    World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen thanking him for following the WHO’s guidance and commending Cambodia’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19. In his letter made public by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Workers return, hope for salaries

    More than 600 factory workers in the capital’s Chaom Chao commune in Por Sen Chey district returned to work after the factory’s owner promised to pay their salaries in instalments until the middle of next month. On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 600 workers gathered