Marking the Chinese New Year with flair on Monday, two local tycoons handed out individual gifts of as much as $25 in cash to members of the city’s municipal and military police force, officers said.
Sok Kong, owner of the petroleum and hotel giant Sokimex, and Chheung Sopheap, owner of the Pheapimex land concession firm, handed out their new year gifts in traditional red envelopes at their Phnom Penh residences, law enforcement officers said.
“Police, military police and traffic police gathered at the [Pheapimex] office to get the red envelope from the owner,” said military police officer Norng Chanrith, who said he received $25 in an envelope collected from Chheung Sopheap, who is better known as Yeay Phu, or grandmother Phu.
Or Khar, a municipal police officer interviewed outside Sok Kong’s house on Norodom Boulevard, said he received $2.50 in his new year envelope from the Sokimex owner, as did many of his colleagues.
Or Khar said he and about 60 other police and military police received 10,000 riel (about $2.50) each.
Sok Kong and Chheung Sopheap could not be reached for comment Monday.
Municipal police chief Touch Naruth said by phone that it is a Chinese New Year tradition to give red envelopes filled with cash as tokens to mark the changing year, and the bring good luck for the year ahead.
Touch Naruth said he did not take part in the practice because he has no Chinese ancestry, and he added that he didn’t believe other police officers took the red envelopes either.
“I did not know the business officials were giving cash to the police,” he said by phone Monday. “I think that my policemen did not get the cash.”
Svay Vutha, an adviser to Sok Kong, said on Monday that the Sokimex director was taking a five-day holiday for the new year, and he declined to comment on the new year gifts to the city law enforcement officers.