Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM, minister donate $25K to sick reporter

PM, minister donate $25K to sick reporter

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Saing Soenthrith speaks to the press after receiving $20,000 donated by Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday at the United Journalists Federation of Cambodia. Facebook

PM, minister donate $25K to sick reporter

Prime Minister Hun Sen and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith have donated $20,000 and $5,000, respectively, to a former reporter for the Cambodia Daily who accused the management of the newspaper of “abandoning” him after he fell seriously ill due to diabetes.

Saing Soenthrith, who worked for 20 years as a journalist for the English language daily, received the donation via the government-affiliated Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC) at an event yesterday that one analyst suggested may have been an opportunity for the ruling party to score political points.

“I have tried to have [my diabetes] cured for nearly a year with financial support from local, international journalists and former Cambodia Daily reporters to raise money to clean my blood,” Soenthrith said.

The father of three undergoes dialysis twice a week and needs a kidney transplant, and has been unable to work since May last year, when he learned his kidneys were failing.

Speaking by phone yesterday, Soenthrith said he had lodged a complaint against the newspaper with the Labour Ministry over the rate of his sick pay – which stopped at the end of last year – as well as other severance entitlements.

Soenthrith said that he had also lodged a complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. The Daily’s general manager, Douglas Steele, declined to discuss the details of the Labour Law complaint and said he was unaware of the case lodged with the court.

“I don’t anticipate having much to say on it other than if there’s been an act of generosity here, we are happy to see that,” Steele said.

Hun Sen routinely makes large donations – which dwarf his declared salary of $1,150 per month – in order to appear benevolent and win grassroots support, said social commentator Meas Ny, and in this case, some may question whether there was another motive still.

“Some of the public might see that it could affect the reputation of the Cambodia Daily, which the government perceives as an anti-government newspaper,” he said.

The optics of the donation, he added, are “that the Cambodia Daily cannot help its staff, so Hun Sen has to jump in and provide support”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAUN TURTON

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

    At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides. The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem. He told The

  • Three dead, 13 injured in collapse at Siem Reap pagoda

    At least three people were killed and more than 10 others injured on Monday after a dining hall under construction collapsed at Prasat Kokchak pagoda in Kokchak commune, Siem Reap province. Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Military Police, soldiers and local volunteers had successfully recovered 16

  • China Unicom enters Cambodia

    China Unicom, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has expanded into Cambodia to build optical telecommunication pathways in the Kingdom as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hong Kong-listed company officially opened its China Unicom (Cambodia) subsidiary on Monday to become the

  • PP-SHV Expressway on track for completion in early 2023

    The construction of the $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which broke ground at the end of March, is on track to be completed by early 2023, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said on Monday. The 190km high-speed highway linking the capital to the

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • Dealer charged with artefact smuggling

    Antiquities dealer Douglas Latchford has been charged by the Southern District of New York with several counts of smuggling looted Cambodian artefacts. US attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffey Berman and special agent in charge of the New York field office of