Chinese New Year is approaching and local officials in Phnom Penh are once again lobbying businesses to donate to their end-of-lunar-year parties, according to a request letter dated January 21.
Though the Chinese New Year is not recognized as an official holiday in Cambodia, that has not stopped Keo Sakol, chief of Prampi Makara district’s Veal Vong commune from sending the official letter to local businesses seeking contributions for crates of beer and soft drinks so that local officials, particularly police officers, can have a party on February 9—the eve of the Year of the Snake.
“It is our tradition to celebrate with a party,” Ms. Sakol said on Wednesday, declining to say how many businesses have been asked to provide crates of beverages as such information was a “commune administrative affair.”
In the commune chief’s letter, each business is asked to contribute two cases of beer and two cases of soft drinks.
Last year’s appeal was responded to with about 30 cases of beer and soft drinks, she said.
Also last year, a trickster was arrested in Phnom Penh for posing as a recently elected ruling party commune official and seeking donations of beer and cash to celebrate the CPP’s commune election victory in June. Local officials also distanced themselves from a scammer who visited businesses in Phnom Penh to solicit significant cash donations for what he said was the funeral ceremony of a commune official’s recently deceased father.
Phnom Penh Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said on Wednesday that asking private businesses for Chinese New Year beer and soda donations was not a policy of City Hall, and was probably illegal, as it could be interpreted as a form of “extortion of money from businesses.”