Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government criticised for Khmer New Year bonuses

Government criticised for Khmer New Year bonuses

Khoung Sreng (centre) speaks to the press in June 2017 in Phnom Penh. Sreng was recently criticised for giving City Hall employees $100 and two cases of beer for the Khmer New Year.
Khoung Sreng (centre) speaks to the press in June 2017 in Phnom Penh. Sreng was recently criticised for giving City Hall employees $100 and two cases of beer for the Khmer New Year. Hong Menea

Government criticised for Khmer New Year bonuses

City Hall employees have received two cases of beer and $100 each as a Khmer New Year bonus courtesy of Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khoung Sreng, and the city’s budget – sparking criticism from health and road safety organisations.

Met Measpheakdey, spokesman for City Hall, confirmed that each employee had been offered the bonus.

“We have been making an effort to motivate our staff who do their job [by providing incentives] apart from their salary,” he said.

“We motivate them once a year during Khmer New Year, but some news outlets criticised our original good idea to take care of staff. I don’t understand.”

An official in the city’s Finance Department, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the money for the bonuses came from the City Hall budget, but wasn’t able to specify the total amount. The official also said the beer had been sponsored by Cambodia Brewery Limited, which couldn’t be reached for comment.

“I received $100 and two cases of beer,” said Prom Tha, deputy administrative chief at City Hall. “I am happy that our governor is very thoughtful about civil servants. It is coming from the heart of our leader and whether we drink it or not, it’s up to us.”

Tha said district officials were also given one case of beer.

With more than 200 people estimated to die annually on Cambodia’s roads in traffic accidents related to alcohol, the gifts irked organisations pushing road safety. Most of the government’s annual $1.2 million contribution to its road safety action plan is used for safe driving campaigns around major holidays, such as Khmer New Year.

The World Health Organization in Cambodia has also cited harmful consumption of alcohol and tobacco use, among other factors, as increasing risks for noncommunicable diseases.

Heng Sopheab, deputy director at the National Institute for Public Health, said he believed the alcoholic gifts were not appropriate.

“To me, it’s not a good idea to give alcohol as a gift . . . because it leads to many things,” he said. “It’s not good for [people’s] health and it can be linked to driving” under the influence.

Chhea Chhor Daphea, director of the National Centre for Health Promotion, said officials couldn’t ban people from gifting alcohol, but suggested that if they do give beer bonuses they should also convey the message to drink responsibly and to follow the law.

“In many cultures, drinking is part of the entertainment,” Chhor Daphea said. But “not drinking is the best way” to prevent problems.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The