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Taxi crash dispute goes viral

Pheng Vannak hands over $4,000 in donations raised through Facebook to Som Monkya, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism
Pheng Vannak hands over $4,000 in donations raised through Facebook to Som Monkya, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Taxi crash dispute goes viral

The Cambodian Red Cross has turned down $4,000 in donations because it considers the money tainted after a senior government official claimed the cash from a taxi driver following a high-speed crash.

Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism Som Monyka came under fire on social media after she was involved in a car crash on the way to Ratanakkiri province from Phnom Penh on October 19.

Driver Khem Makara swerved to avoid a dog on the road and careened off the asphalt. Nobody in the 15-seater minibus was seriously injured, despite Monyka claiming Makara was driving at 120 kilometres per hour and talking to his girlfriend on the phone.

Monyka and three others waited with the driver and, several days later, filed a complaint claiming $1,000 in damages per person.

After hearing the driver’s side of the story, social media maven and National Police officer Pheng Vannak took to Facebook and raised the $4,000 from senior officials, causing Monyka to lose face.

“The victim came to see me, so I thought of raising money, because I felt sorry for him because he’s very poor,” said Vannak, who was accused last year of threatening to kill opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party deputy president Kem Sokha.

Monyka – the wife of Ministry of Interior Secretary of State Pol Lim – said her reputation had been damaged by the affair.

“This is all so unfair, because I am the injured party,” she said.

“[Makara] had no driving licence and drove too fast.… I thought I would die at that time. Three or four days later I got a health check and realised that the bones in my feet were bruised.

“What is important right now is my reputation.”

Her husband said she has since donated the $4,000 to the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital.

Pom Chantyny, general secretary of the Cambodian Red Cross, said yesterday that Monyka’s attempted donation had been declined because “it has to be real, from the heart, and not from actions like those”.

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