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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CHRAC ‘never requested bribe texts’

CHRAC secretary-general Suon Bunsak (centre), who announced his resignation on Tuesday, attends a compensation meeting earlier this year in Kampong Speu. Photo supplied
CHRAC secretary-general Suon Bunsak (centre), who announced his resignation on Tuesday, attends a compensation meeting earlier this year in Kampong Speu. Photo supplied

CHRAC ‘never requested bribe texts’

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee’s investigation into allegations that recently resigned secretary-general Suon Bunsak attempted to solicit a bribe was conducted without attempting to obtain text messages central to the accusation.

The texts, obtained by the Post, show Bunsak demanding a $1,500 “incentive” from former CHRAC consultant Billy Tai in return for the promise of better working conditions.

Tai originally leaked the texts to CHRAC donor Norwegian People’s Aid in June. NPA country director Aksel Steen-Nilsen said in an email yesterday that he was “very surprised to hear now that they have not had access to them”.

Steen-Nilsen said he asked the steering committee to request that Tai provide copies of the messages, saying the NPA would provide them otherwise. But both Tai and Steen-Nilsen yesterday said they never received a request for the messages.

The man tasked with investigating the allegations, Yong Kim Eng, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Seemingly reversing on a statement earlier this week, Steen-Nilsen said NPA had not in fact resumed funding to CHRAC since suspending it on July 4. He said one of the reasons was that, “NPA has not accepted any evidence so far” that might exonerate Bunsak.

There are two conditions for resumption of funding, he said: the steering committee taking full control of day-to-day operations and a full audit.

“It’s a difficult time for us . . . I think maybe we cannot manage all these things,” acting CHRAC chair In Kea said, adding that Bunsak will continue to work for CHRAC for the next few months to manage the transition period. Bunsak could not be reached.

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