Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that he will forego seven months of his after-tax salary – from February to August 2021 – and redirect the money to the Ministry of Health to help combat Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the health ministry requested that Phnom Penh municipal and provincial authorities pay close attention to strengthening the implementation of measures to prevent Covid-19 transmission at public gatherings and group events such as weddings and other ceremonies.
Hun Sen confirmed that his salary was 10 million riel per month and that he had to pay taxes of 910,000 riel per month on it and so he would be handing over 9,090,000 riel per month to the ministry for a total donation of 63,630,000 riel [$16,000] for those seven months.
“Due to the ongoing global crisis caused by Covid-19 and its continued impact on Cambodia, I would like to announce that I will donate my entire salary after taxes to the health ministry for another seven months, from February to August 2021,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen also thanked officials, civil society and members of the armed forces who are volunteering to donate all or part of their salaries towards efforts to combat Covid-19 because it demonstrates great solidarity and concern for the protection of the Cambodian people’s health.
Following the prime minister’s announcement, some ministers and officials said they too would donate their salaries to the health ministry.
Among the ranks of the generous were Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng; Minister of Rural Development Ouk Rabun; Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara and a number of other officials.
On January 26, Hun Sen provided an additional 300 million riel to two provinces along the Cambodian-Thai border – Oddar Meanchey and Pailin. The funds are meant to facilitate the quarantine of migrants returning from Thailand.
To date, nearly 20,000 Cambodian workers have returned from Thailand with all of them having undergone the mandatory 14-day quarantine in one of the provinces along the border.
Health ministry secretary of state York Sambath said the additional funds provided 200 million riel to Oddar Meanchey and 100 million riel to Pailin.
Separately, health minister Mam Bunheng issued a letter urging Phnom Penh municipal and provincial authorities to continue to pay close attention and take steps to enforce the implementation of health measures to prevent Covid-19 transmission at group gatherings and events such as wedding ceremonies.
“So far, we’ve had good results preventing any Covid-19 outbreaks. There hasn’t been any large-scale transmission of this deadly virus in our communities,” he wrote.
The minister noted, however, that in the past when the government allowed traditional social gatherings and religious ceremonies to resume after the Covid-19 situation eased, preventive measures were not widely implemented.
He said this presented a huge risk for an outbreak if even one guest at one event was infected.
“I urge all municipal and provincial governors to demand of everyone a strict and total compliance with Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen’ recommendations,” he wrote.
Bunheng advised that before allowing any festival or ceremony to be organised, the local authorities must give instructions to the event hosts and guests regarding the implementation of these health measures.
Bunheng specified that they should require the use of an automatic or manual thermometer at the entry along with hand sanitising gel. The gel should also be available at all tables and bathrooms with signs reminding people to use it before eating or after using the facilities.
“The event host must provide standing or sitting room for guests and members of staff that allows them to maintain social distancing of at least 1.5m; limit the number of guests to five people maximum per table; and discourage guests from shaking hands or hugging,” he wrote.
Bunheng instructed the municipal and provincial authorities to deploy law enforcement forces to monitor and guide the people at all such events to ensure the strict implementation of these health measures.
As of January 26, Cambodia had recorded a total of 460 Covid-19 cases with 412 recoveries.