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Health Minister Grilled Over Alleged Graft in Sector


Health Minister Mam Bunheng (left) testifies in the National Assembly concerning irregularities in the health sector, December 29, 2016. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said bidding for hospitals was conducted in an open and transparent manner and in accordance with the law, while in allocations to the ministry by the Global Fund was not in the ministry’s jurisdiction, rather it was the sole responsibility of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).

Answers provided by the Health Minister in response to questions over alleged corruption in the public sector were inaccurate and unacceptable, an opposition official has said.

Eng Chhay Eang, a Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker who heads parliament’s human rights commission, called Health Minister Mam Bun Heng to appear before the commission on Thursday to answer questions about alleged irregularities in the sale of a hospital and spending of Global Fund money.

During the hearing, Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, asked the minister 10 questions, to which Bun Heng gave prepared responses.

He said bidding for hospitals was conducted in an open and transparent manner and in accordance with the law, while in allocations to the ministry by the Global Fund was not in the ministry’s jurisdiction, rather it was the sole responsibility of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).

He added that the ministry was working to improve its practices following recent bad press.

Chhay Eang said “the delegation of responsibility to the ACU and other points raised indicates the irresponsibility of the minister.”

“His responses are false. He didn’t even answer the questions, and sometimes missed the point.

“If we act responsibly and are innocent, we should not be afraid of anything. We should post the bidding publicly on a website and no-one will have any doubts.”

Bun Heng could not be reached.

Sorn Chay, executive director of the League of Social Accountability in Cambodia, an NGO, said corruption in the health sector was carried out from the top.

“When the leader doesn’t serve as a role model, the lower management will learn from him and this kind of learning has an adverse effect on the public health service. The health sector has to undergo a rigorous renovation of its internal affairs in order to achieve a positive outcome,” he said.

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