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Cambodia threatens jail for Covid-19 quarantine violations

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: PM Hun Sen imposes harsh Covid-19 restrictions

In the face of expanding Covid-19 infections in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that violators of quarantine may face prison sentences, and government workers could be fired if they don’t get vaccines. More than 1,000 new Coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the last 2 days along, nearly 25% of the total cases since the pandemic began. The government has forbidden out-of-province travel and implemented evening curfews in the main city of Phnom Penh. They even shut down all the tourist attractions including the world-famous Angkor Wat temple complex.

Face masks are already mandatory now in Phnom Penh, with fines up to US $250 for anyone caught violating the order. But PM Hun Sen, himself having had a close brush with Covid-19 months ago, has imposed a 2-week quarantine and has made it clear that punishment for any rule-breakers will be harsh and swift. The government has already enacted a strict bill to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Cambodia, with prison terms of up to 20 years for serious violators. In an address broadcast on state-run television, he promised a “quick trial’.

“People who break Covid measures must be sentenced, I accept being called a dictator, but I will also be admired for protecting my people’s lives.”

Cambodia began Covid-19 vaccination in February, with a million citizens already receiving at least their first of two injections. In a country of 16 million, that 6% is a healthy start for their vaccination programme. The Prime Minister also declared vaccination mandatory for all state officials and members of the military. He asserted that their job was on the line if they failed to comply.

Cambodia had done well with low Covid-19 infection numbers during the pandemic, but in February, the virus tore through the Chinese ex-pat community, with the outbreak causing a surge in infections proliferating across the country. The situation is worsening now, as hospitals in Phnom Penh are running out of beds and the government is converting large halls and local schools into medical centres for mildly afflicted patients.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar


    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 1:04 am

    Love how the covid fearing old folk (the only ones susceptible) take quality years from the young with their lockdowns, mask wearing, and generalized insanity (yes Isaan John, you too)

  2. Avatar

    Mr J

    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 1:21 am

    20 years for a Covid Violation?……Yes, you are a Dictator pal…..

  3. Avatar

    Peter allen

    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 7:51 am

    Hun Sen gets his whole country in jeopardy that will cause great suffering for the people because he can’t separate himself from Chinese money. . What is a Chinese expat community doing there in these times ! !

  4. Avatar


    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Harsh yet correct punishment.

  5. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    Yes here in Phnom Penh the bars and restaurants shut at 8 o’clock.
    Nobody on the street after 8 o’clock. We manage . . .
    Still if this was Thailand everything would be worse.
    However 6 percent of the population are vaccinated. What has Thailand vaccinated. 1 percent?
    A interesting fact here is that the rich Cambodians are buying vaccines and donating them to the country.
    Any chance of rich Thais doing the same for Thailand? I doubt it.

  6. Avatar


    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    Dictators are in a better position to control the virus than democracies. I live in the free world and in these days sometimes long for a good-willing autocratic leader (not those who shoot peaceful protesters or ignore the pandemic). The number of people around me that don’t adhere to the lockdown rules and go unpunished is staggering. Add to this the conspiracy theories and other trash on the internet, and I am basically convinced democracy does not work under these circumstances.

  7. Avatar


    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    “However 6 percent of the population are vaccinated. What has Thailand vaccinated. 1 percent?”

    Currently 0.4% vaccinated in Thailand. The government recently proudly announced that it had vaccinated 7,000 BKK residents (out of 18 million BKK citizens). So now 0.038% more vaccinated…

  8. Avatar


    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Toby, Cambodia uses Chinese vaccine, Thailand is waiting for Western vaccine which will not come until I don’t know when. That’s pity

  9. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Yes you might be right there Ray.
    Law enforcement is already low in the west . . .
    And some of the penalties are a joke!
    However latest news here, is they have closed the bars!
    When I saw it I was overcome. I broke down in tears and had to hold myself up on a lamp post.
    A Cambodian came up and patted me on the back. He said. “Someone die?”
    Well I felt foolish so I said “my dog die.”
    He said you go off and buy you a beer.” This started me off again!
    I recovered and later was able to buy a bottle of scotch for $6.50 cents – ! litre.
    See if you can buy that bottle in a Thai Seven/ Eleven at B204.
    Some stores cannot sell beer now. I managed to buy three cans. B19 a can.
    Tomorrow, we will see what happens

  10. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    “A interesting fact here is that the rich Cambodians are buying vaccines and donating them to the country.”

    Very interesting, toby andrews. Where are they buying them from?

    All I read on this was that some of Cambodia’s rich elite, including the Malaysian billionaire owner of Cambodia’s biggest casino who donated $5 million, donated millions to the Cambodian Red Cross to buy vaccines in return for state contracts and monopolies as the Cambodian Red Cross is run by Hun Sen’s wife.

    If they’re “buying vaccines”, though, maybe Thai hospitals could buy them as well?

  11. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 9:34 am

    @Gosport, Cambodia has “Western vaccine”as it got the first batch of AZ vaccine free by Covax, as well as free SinoVax and SinoPharm from China.

    Thailand isn’t eligible for free vaccines from Covax as it’s classed as “financially independent”.

    The voluntary take up in Cambodia was very low, but it was made mandatory for all government employees (military, police, government, teachers, hospitals, etc) so it’s no surprise that the vaccination rate has been high so far.

  12. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 10:53 am

    I wrote that line wrongly Simon Small. The rich are not buying the vaccines. They are donating money to buy the vaccines. So far $30 million.
    Yes there will be contracts for the rich in return, but the rich would pay for contracts anyway.
    Latest news is that all foreigners with work permits in Cambodia will receive the vaccines free.
    Any chance of Thailand doing that?
    I am becoming increasingly suspicious that the Thai administration is holding back vaccinations in order that they can sell them.

  13. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    Cambodia isn’t buying any vaccines, toby andrews, it’s getting them free from Covax and from China, so the $30 million given so far has just gone straight to Hun Sen.

    Thailand has already said that all expats (not just those with work permits) will get vaccines free, and expats can register in Phuket now, it’s just a matter of waiting (and waiting, and waiting).

    You seem oddly “suspicious” of Thailand but accepting of Cambodia’s open corruption and dictatorship. Any reason, apart from cheap “scotch”?

  14. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, May 10, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    @Simon Small – no it’s the cheap scotch that convinced me.

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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