Roughly 20 people gathered at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house this morning hoping to receive ang pao, the ubiquitous red envelopes stuffed with cash handed out during Chinese New Year, but were turned away by district security guards.
Sam Chan, a housewife from Chbar Ampov district’s Chbar Ampov 1 commune, said the group came in two tuk-tuks because they heard the premier gave out 50,000 riel – approximately $12.50 – to each person last year.
“Today, no one gave us money,” Chan said. “Instead, we were dismissed away from his house by the guards.”
Some of the hopeful residents were taken home in a police vehicle, while others fled the scene on foot after being chased by security guards.
The security guards told the residents that today was the “praying day” of the Chinese New Year and that no cash would be given on such a day.
Kong Chamroeun, an officer from the prime minister’s cabinet, said he was not aware of the incident, but denied that Hun Sen gave out ang pao to villagers last year.
“He only gave it to about 10 to 20 police guarding the front of his house,” Chamroeun said. Instead of handing out cash, Chamroeun added, the premier “always pays attention to both the rich and the poor in certain areas who are in need”.
However, a sugarcane juice seller on the street near Hun Sen’s house said that she received 50,000 riel last year at the premier’s villa, handed out by a bodyguard.