Government Seeks Private Funding for Drug Rehab Center

Wealthy businessmen are being asked to contribute funds toward a new national drug rehabilitation center in Sihanoukville and other treatment programs, part of a government effort to solicit help from the private sector for an anti-drug campaign.

One of the country’s wealthiest tycoons, Kith Meng, has set up an association aiming to raise money from the private sector for the new rehab center, which would be built on 20 hectares in Preah Sihanoukville province. The land was donated by another wealthy business mogul, Mong Reththy.

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From left: Ke Kim Yan, chairman of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, Interior Minister Sar Kheng and businessman Kith Meng at a fundraising event in Phnom Penh on Friday (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Interior Minister Sar Kheng described plans for the center, which will be able to treat up to 2,000 drug users, during a Friday fundraising dinner on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island attended by officials and businesspeople.

“The ultimate goal of our event today is to push and create a movement of cooperation, full involvement and support for all activities of the anti-drug campaign from all parts of society, especially the private sector,” Mr. Kheng said, according to his prepared speech.

He requested that people of means donate as much as they could “to support this rehabilitation center to be able to successfully save those who are victimized by drugs and support other rehabilitation centers that are actively helping the government on this work.”

As of on Sunday, more than 6,600 people have been arrested for drug-related crimes since the start of the government’s anti-drug crackdown in January, said Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).

Mr. Meng has already set up the Association to Save and and Rehabilitate Drug Users to raise funds for the rehabilitation center, Mr. Vyrith said.

Mr. Reththy donated the land for the planned center in 2009, when it was first proposed.

Construction on the center would start “when we have money,” Mr. Vyrith said. “We have the land…. Now we are fundraising.”

The cost of the proposed center was still uncertain, he added.

The private sector was also asked to “spread [anti-drug] messages and check on…employees [by conducting drug tests], because it is hard for the [NACD] to do it in the private sector,” Mr. Vyrith said.

“If there are drug users, encourage them to receive treatment,” he said.

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