PHNOM PENH —
News that the funeral for the late deputy prime minister, Sok An, will cost the state $750,000 has provoked dismay among critics in the impoverished country.
Sok An died in a Beijing hospital on Wednesday and his body was repatriated on Thursday last week.
After it was revealed that Prime Minister Hun Sen had requested $750,000 be set aside from the national budget for An’s funeral expenses, social media users in Cambodia went online to question the decision.
Kem Monovithya, opposition leader Kem Sokha’s eldest daughter, Tweeted: “$750,000 funeral, from national budget. Who said #Cambodia is poor?”
Sok Eysan, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, however, said the cost was justified.
“With this amount of money, we will not spend it all,” he said. “We don’t know how much will be spent. This money is reserved for solving the problems that are happening now.”
San Chey, executive director of Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, accused the government of political bias, comparing the lack of expenditure on the funeral of Pen Sovann, a former prime minister and opposition lawmaker, who died last year with the apparently lavish plans for Sok An.
The United States on Thursday issued a statement offering condolences.
“Samdach Dr. Sok An had an extraordinary career in the economic, legal, education, religious, cultural preservation, and diplomatic fields. He was a longtime partner with the U.S. Embassy on cultural preservation through his role as President of the Apsara Authority. He likewise made significant contributions to the Royal Government’s efforts to establish the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) through his role as chairman of the Task Force on the Khmer Rouge Trial,” it said.
Sok An was cremated on Sunday at Botum Vatey pagoda in Phnom Penh.