The country’s political and business elite dug deep into their pockets on Sunday for the Cambodian Red Cross’ (CRC) annual fundraising drive in Phnom Penh, contributing a total of $13.43 million during an event marking World Red Cross Day.
The CRC is headed by Cambodian first lady Bun Rany, who has come under fire for using the ostensibly neutral relief organization to campaign for the ruling party. Speaking at the CRC’s headquarters in Tuol Kok district yesterday, she said some of the money would be used to help those suffering from one of the worst droughts on record.
“In 2016, Cambodia has faced very high temperatures and water shortages due to climate change… and the Cambodian Red Cross has especially given humanitarian assistance to the victims of the drought,” Ms. Rany said.
Speaking after his wife, Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked those in attendance, a group that included government officials, prominent members of the business community and the Chinese ambassador.
“These are personal contributions to help each other during such hardships. Today’s gathering showcases the cooperation among citizens, as well as the private sector and public sector, to help our poor people,” he said.
The top donor of the day was New World Microfinance, a local financial institution that gave $1.83 million. CIMB, a bank headquartered in Kuala Lumpur with branches in Cambodia, donated $1 million.
Among local businessmen, timber magnate Try Pheap showed the greatest largesse, parting with $300,000. Royal Group president Kith Meng and agriculture magnate Mong Reththy each gave $10,000 to the cause, the same sum donated by Bu Jianguo, China’s ambassador to Cambodia.
Senate President Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who both serve as vice presidents of the ruling CPP, were among government officials including National Assembly President Heng Samrin and the ministers of industry, rural development and transport who gave between $5,000 and $10,000 each.