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

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the