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PM orders Cabinet to designate a five-day ‘replacement holiday’

Taing Rinith / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen. KT/ Khem Sovannara

Prime Minister Hun Sen, in a recent message, said employees will be granted a five-day holiday in lieu of the postponed Khmer New Year holidays in April, although a date is yet to be determined. The decision was confirmed yesterday by a government spokesman.

In a voice message sent Sunday to the National Committee for Combating COVID-19 and obtained today by Khmer Times, Mr Hun Sen asked relevant ministers to convene and decide on the dates for the five-day vacation for employees who were unable to enjoy the Khmer New Year holidays.

Hopes for a work respite were dashed last April when the government announced the postponement of the public holidays to mitigate risks of COVID-19 transmission in the Kingdom.

“Thailand has already given their people replacement holidays [for the cancellation of their Songkran Festival]. Our [lieu days] must not overlap with theirs,” said the premier, referring to the Thai Cabinet’s decision earlier this month to set July 27 as the substitute holiday for one of the three postponed Songkran holidays.

Dates for the two other Songkran holidays are yet to be assigned.

“We must compensate the people as was promised since our COVID-19 situation is under control,” said Mr Hun Sen, adding the substitute holidays may fall on the last week of July or early August.

He then asked Bin Chhin, Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, to draft a decree once all relevant ministers have agreed on specific dates.

Phay Siphan, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister and Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit, said the voice message was leaked from the circle of the government’s senior officials.

Nonetheless, he confirmed that the people will soon receive five-day substitute holidays in exchange for their cooperation with the government by “giving up the Khmer New Year holidays and not returning to their hometowns in April” to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Samdech Prime Minister asked relevant ministers, who are also members of the National Committee for Combating COVID-19, especially the ministers of Health and Tourism, to evaluate the situation. Only when the committee comes up with a recommendation will the dates be declared official,” said Siphan.

“Samdech urged the committee to give an answer as soon as possible. All we know [for now] is that the substitute holidays will fall on Monday so that most people will get an entire week off,” he added.

Asked why the premier said Cambodia’s lieu days must not overlap with Thailand’s, Siphan said it is a matter of “Cambodia’s sovereignty and not following in the footsteps of another country”.

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