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Svay Rieng health workers tell ACU of ‘bribes for jobs’

Ke Rotha (left), chief of health for Svay Rieng province, talks at a public forum in Svay Chrum district late last week. Facebook
Ke Rotha (left), chief of health for Svay Rieng province, talks at a public forum in Svay Chrum district late last week. Facebook

Svay Rieng health workers tell ACU of ‘bribes for jobs’

Health workers in Svay Rieng have filed a complaint accusing the province’s health department of demanding bribes of short-term contracts employees and freelance workers hoping for full-time government jobs.

The complaint, delivered to the Anti-Corruption Unit, prime minister’s office and Health Ministry, alleges that the director of the province’s health department, Ke Rotha, demanded $5,000 in exchange for permanent civil servant positions.

“The application process to request becoming a government civil servant for the Ministry of Health involved many irregularities, such as bribery, faking and changing names of contracted staff,” the July 21 complaint reads.

The transitioning of contract workers – including nurses, midwives and doctors – to permanent government employees has come in response to a June Facebook announcement in which Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the move.

One of the complainants, Mao Sitha, a medical staffer at Romeask Hek district hospital, said of the 200 contract or freelance staff working for the provincial health department, only 15 were put on government payrolls, with 33 others being selected from outside the official list.

“When we searched, we found many cases [of bribery]. Some people boasted that they gave him up to $8,000,” Sith said yesterday. “Only 15 people from the province were selected, but he [Rotha] hired outsiders who paid him $5,000 to $8,000.”

Another worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she was prepared to pay Rotha $5,000 for a permanent position but did not pay up after her name failed to make the list.

Rotha could not be reached yesterday. His wife said that he was in Vietnam for a health checkup.

Claiming to have read the allegations on Facebook, Provincial Governor Men Vibol said he had instructed officials to look into the matter.

Kuy Thy, deputy director for recruitment at Svay Rieng’s health department, denied being part of any corruption in the department and said he only worked with Rotha to finalise the list of workers to receive permanent jobs.

Of the 200, he said 83 were medical workers and the rest, 117, were freelance workers, including drivers and administrative assistants.

However, officials gave conflicting accounts as to which were entitled to government jobs.

While Thy claimed the ministry instructed them to hire only the freelance workers, Orn Sophat, deputy director at the provincial health department, said Hun Sen’s orders only applied to qualified medical contract workers.

“I also heard about [Rotha] taking money, but I cannot say because I have no evidence,” he said. “But I think the department has made a big mistake. I asked department officials from other provinces, and they, too, said they included all contracted employees [including freelance workers].”

ACU head Om Yentieng and Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann could not be reached yesterday.

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