On April 10, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen promised that families affected by COVID-19 and the latest lockdowns, if needed, would be eligible to receive 300,000 riel (about $ 75) from the government. in one cash handover. Ten days later, he withdraw promises and says that, instead, households will receive donated food, not money. According to Hun Sen, time is down the brass. “Before there were only 10,000 or 20,000 families it wouldn’t be difficult, but now we have tens of thousands of families,” Hun Sen stated on April 20th. “When demanding money, everyone thinks about asking the State to find a solution, not how to solve it?”
Hun Sen has a recent history of turn of events. In early 2020, he promised to pay a garment worker $ 114 a month but then reduced that amount to $ 70. Furthermore, when fulfilling his promise of cash on April 10, Hun Sen has every indication that things will fundamentally get worse, and (unless he fulfills his promise in a way). blindly and without consulting any experts) he may have reasonably assumed that the number of people begging for cash would also increase. As of April 10, nationwide there were 1,957 active cases of COVID-19 infection. On April 20, when he withdrew his promise, there were 4,840. However, on April 10, about 477 new cases were identified, while the day before, there were 576 new cases. Before that, the highest daily increase in new infections since the pandemic started was just 179 on March 27.
The second question is whether Cambodia can really afford a one-time cash payment. It certainly can, but that could mean taking money elsewhere. Perhaps the military budget? Hun Sen stated that if only 20,000 families needed relief, they would be able to pay. Granted, and it will cost the government around $ 1.5 million dollars. But what if it’s 100,000 families? Well, that would be just $ 7.5 million. For 200,000 families? 15 million dollars. That won’t break the bank.
I guess Hun Sen is not being honest with his reasons. For starters, he probably worried his government would not be able to properly handle such a cash-relief effort, given the bureaucratic challenges this would lead to The bureaucracy is built on political loyalty rather than competence. And it is easier to distribute rice bags than to transfer money into thousands of bank accounts.
More importantly, perhaps Hun Sen knew that cashing wouldn’t end with a one-time supply. This pandemic wave is likely to last for weeks if not months, and by setting this precedent now, his government is likely to provide more cash in the future. If that is the case, then Hun Sen is probably right that his government cannot afford it.
Instead of distributing cash, on April 20, Hun Sen said poor households would receive free food packages. At least that’s something, but sacks of rice won’t pay off to the banks and microfinance lenders, who are demanding interest payments. They also do not please homeowners or power companies.
What Hun Sen did, however, was a very subtle but sly maneuver that his government honed over the decades. Instead of Cambodian citizens receiving benefits from their own tax-financed state, which is supposed to be citizens’ rights and obligations provided by the government, they will now receive charity from an elite business “charity” who can then affirm the high moral foundation of helping the country in times of crisis. Since poor households will receive donations and not cash from the state bailout, Cambodians will be instructed to be grateful to their “superiors”. This is the case when the food has been donated. The social media photos showed bags of donated rice labeled with the message saying they were “generous donations” from Hun Sen.
I believe that the food aid that Hun Sen promises at present will not be paid for by the Cambodian state but will be paid for by the ruling party’s wealthy philanthropists. Just go to the Samdech Techo Youth Volunteer Association (TYDA) Facebook page to see how Cambodia’s gift-giving system works. TYDA claims to be an independent organization but it is named after Hun Sen, whose image documents the organization. It was created in 2012 by Hun Sen’s eldest son and his apparent heir Hun Manet, now commander in chief of the army and Manet’s wife, Pich Chanmony, a businesswoman who has fingers in many pies. Grilled.
TYDA’s business is exploiting wealthy philanthropists who have a financial interest in soothing Hun Manet and the Hun clan, then redistributing those donations in ways to donate them. as a gift to ordinary people of Hun Sen and his family. For example, on April 21 alone, Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn donated 100,000 masks to TYDA. Another government official donated 10 boxes of wet towels. Other well-known business families provided money for portable bathrooms or hand sanitizers. In previous days, it was mostly food donations. I have counted at least 30 donations made on April 21 alone, from private donations ranging from 100,000 riel ($ 25) to $ 5,000. In total, TYDA has raised about $ 12,000 in cash on April 21 alone and that figure does not include donations of material and food. This is not strange. It happens almost every day.
According to my estimates, at least $ 400,000 was also donated to the Cambodian Red Cross, an organization run by the ruling party chaired by Hun Sen’s wife, Bun Rany, on April 21. Filter through the Khmer edition of Fresh News, the ruling party’s mouthpiece, and almost every other “current news” story today is how much money a tycoon or businessman or politician has donated. to the numerous associations of the ruling party, and on how beneficial it is to engage many entrepreneurs in a number of controversial businesses.
It is like a kind of skepticism of “corporate social responsibility,” in which businesses donate money to organizations run by the ruling political elite that are subject to protection. their aid. The ruling party’s associations, in turn, will decide how to spend the money, as well as increase their own propaganda. And, importantly, the ruling party can donate to the public as a charitable act. Over the decades, Hun Sen built a quasi-monarchy in which money flowed from top to bottom depending on his words. And if that happens, it is by his kind nature, not that the Cambodian people get what they deserve from their sovereign government.
Where does all this lead? We have reached the point where TYDA, run by an unelected private and military leader, is essentially a department of health. Hun Manet is a member of several committees on pandemic response. According to my own estimates of official data, out of 1,277,688 COVID-19 vaccines used in Cambodia on April 20, TYDA oversaw the administration of 141,980 – or 11.1% – of which. And among the vaccines administered by the Ministry of Health (as the Department of Defense is allocated separately), TYDA managed 14.4%.
And all of that is the reason, most likely, Cambodia is out of bed. April 21, Ministry of Health admit 2,416 people still do not have beds in hospitals or are hastily assembled in medical facilities. However, the total number of active instances for that day was 4,893. For decades, the government did not invest in state health care services and instead relied on out-of-state “charity” activity by the ruling party and its friends. Instead of investing all the money through the Ministry of Health, it is packaged and distributed among the self-serving kingdoms of the ruling elite: Hun Manet’s TYDA takes a share; Bun Rany’s Red Cross is cut; The Youth League of Cambodia run by Hun Many, another son of Hun Sen, takes its share. And now ask yourself who has benefited from this “gifting” nightmare.