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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CSD staff protest actions of new executive director

CSD staff protest actions of new executive director

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Former CSD Executive Director Theary Seng pictured in this file photo.

Petition claims Vi Houi blocked access to bank accounts used for salaries and operational expenses and issued warnings to staffers.

AROUND 50 employees at the Centre for Social Development (CSD) have signed a petition protesting the actions of its new executive director, claiming he froze the organisation's bank accounts and issued warnings to four senior staff members who tried to withdraw funds.

On June 9, city authorities removed CSD Executive Director Theary Seng from her post after Phnom Penh Municipal Court approved a temporary injunction filed by Vi Huoi, who was appointed in her place.

But CSD employees said Vi Huoi had prevented access to company accounts used for salaries and operational expenses, adding that they did not know when the accounts would again become accessible.

Staff representative Chan Than said Vi Huoi met with CSD staff on Monday morning and told them that he had the right "to close or open all the bank accounts of the CSD" because he was the organisation's executive director.

Soeurng Chandara, head of the CSD finance unit, said he was one of "around 50" CSD employees who signed a petition of protest against Vi Huoi because they were "upset [with] and afraid" of his behaviour.

"If he closes those accounts, he freezes the whole operation of the centre," said Ang Udom, Theary Seng's lawyer.

NOBODY HAS BEEN FIRED YET, BUT THEY HAVE BEEN WARNED OF BEING FIRED.

He added that four senior staff members had "received warnings"after trying to conduct day-to-day transactions using organisation accounts.
"Nobody has been fired yet, but they have been warned of being fired," he said.

Appeal coming
Ang Udom also said that Theary Seng plans to appeal the injunction filed by Vi Huoi and that he expects to file the documents this week.

He maintained that the Ministry of Interior, not the Municipal Court, has jurisdiction over NGOs and civil society groups, adding that the ministry had already rejected a complaint by Vi Huoi against Theary Seng in August 2008.

"[Theary Seng] is a part of a board which has been legally recognised by the Ministry of Interior," he said, adding that the court had "interfered" with the ministry's ruling.

Theary Seng has called the injunction a "moot issue" because of the ministry's prior ruling.

"This is an issue of harassment and abuse of process and reflects once again the absurdity, the brokenness of the judiciary in Cambodia," she said in an email.

Vi Huoi could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday.

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