The former governor of Pailin province, Y Chhien, has been removed from his positions as provincial council president and president of the Pailin chapter of the Cambodian People’s Party following allegations he was involved in embezzling $400,000 in expenses.
But the former Khmer Rouge leader will not be mailing out his resume any time soon, as Interior Minister Sar Kheng announced yesterday that a new job as deputy chief of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet had been created especially for the former bodyguard of Pol Pot.
Ven Dara, a councillor of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party in Pailin, said Chhien had been removed from his post after he was first asked to resign by Kheng.
“His Excellency Sar Kheng said that [he] will hold a new position as deputy chief of Samdech Hun Sen’s cabinet,” Dara said.
A local official who asked to remain anonymous said that Chhien had been forced to resign over the allegations. Chhien retired from the governor’s seat in May.
“There was a lot of pressure on him to resign. He did not resign willingly,” the official said. “He was given a choice: either he quits office or his wife steps down. His wife is a lawmaker [also allegedly involved in the scandal], so it is like a powerful corruption coalition.”
Chhien has rejected the allegations, claiming that the $400,000 in question was spent transparently when he was governor.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak denied the claims that Chhien was forced out, saying instead that the apparent promotion of Chhien was “the work of the state”.
Ley Chan, Chhien’s replacement as Pailin governor, praised the four-star general’s leadership and denied Chhien’s alleged involvement in corruption.
“Both in his work for the party and for provincial hall, he has done so much and been so attentive,” Chan said, adding that a CPP member named Koeut Sothea had been appointed as the new CPP party president in Pailin.