Three new vehicles – paid for out of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s pocket – were gifted to ABC Radio station yesterday after its unregistered ambulance was impounded over the weekend for driving without licence plates and transporting guava juice instead of patients.
In a ceremony presided over by Phnom Penh City Governor Pa Socheatvong yesterday, ABC Radio founder Seng Bunveng, or “Aja A”, was handed one vehicle for delivering goods to fund the station’s work, and two other 12-seaters for “humanitarian” purposes.
The premier had dismissed former Phnom Penh municipal health department’s director, Sok Sokun, for impounding the ABC ambulance – which contravened Health Ministry regulations.
Amid criticism from observers that Sokun had effectively been fired for doing his job, Hun Sen then “promoted” him to deputy secretary-general for technical affairs in the ministry.
However, Socheatvong yesterday warned ABC that the vehicles should not be treated as ambulances or emergency vehicles, but “intervention” cars to assist those not in need of immediate medical care.
Bunveng, for his part, stressed that the cars were not a gift to him personally, but provided to fill the gaps in the government’s health service.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen is using me to work for him by providing the cars,” he said.
“I refused, but still he insisted; and now I realise that Prime Minister Hun Sen is a very sharp person,” he went on, characterising the cars as both a gift and reprimand – “so from now on, I need to work based on the law”.
Social researcher Meas Ny, however, said he feared the donation could bring “more harm than good”.
“It is totally dangerous because they have no technical medical expertise; so the Phnom Penh governor needs to be aware of all this,” Ny said.