Prime Minister Hun Sen said recently that the government did not impose lockdown to starve people but to break the chain of covid-19 transmission, and the poor will receive government support. But since then, some have complained that they are suffering now.
A construction worker in Sen Sok district's Trung Morn village, which has been in lockdown since April 9, said on condition of anonymity that he and other impoverished villagers were happy to hear that the prime minister would provide them with food and financial assistance to sustain their livelihoods. But he claimed that until now he had received nothing.
“We are facing shortages because most of the residents here are garment and construction workers staying in rented rooms and cannot go anywhere.
“When Samdech [Hun Sen] announced that there are donations, we were very happy. But we haven't seen them. We are looking forward to receiving the donations,” he said.
Another resident said some impoverished families in his village had received donations from the prime minister, but some had not. He is looking forward to receiving the donation, worried that his family will face more difficulties if the lockdown prolongs.
“During this lockdown, I have little food. If the lockdown is extended, I will be starved. Bills of water, electricity and bank loans are also due to settle,” he said.
During a recent address, Hun Sen urged better-off citizen to decline government support. The call came after a photo was shared on social media showing a woman receiving milled rice, sauce fish and money from the local authorities in front of her villa. The photo drew public criticism.
Meanchey district deputy governor Dy Roth Khemrun told The Post on April 18 that the donations from Hun Sen for the poor had reached residents in his district gradually.
He urged people in the lockdown area to be tolerant as the authorities provide the donation to those in need first. He called on rich families to transfer donations to the poor instead.
“It does not mean that the authorities had turned a blind eye to them. Please kindly understand. We are providing impoverished families with the donations. But we are also aware that some brothers and sisters have not yet received them – we are taking their names,” he said.
Roth Khemrun said Meanchey district consisted of seven communes with more than 5,000 poor families. They all will receive food and 300,000 riel ($70) donated by the prime minister.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the donations should be provided for real poor people. But obviously, the local authorities had a loophole in the application of the principle.