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Khmer Amatak inquiry doesn’t add up

Dear Editor,

I was fascinated by the report in Tuesday’s The Phnom Penh Post of the appearance in court of Bun Tha, editor of Khmer Amatak newspaper.
Mr Bun Tha’s court appearance was the consequence of a complaint filed by Kao Kim Hourn, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and president of the University of Cambodia, after the Khmer Amatak newspaper published articles criticising an unofficial 20,000-riel fee levied on applicants for a scholarship sponsored by the Japanese government and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Your newspaper report quotes Kao Kim Hourn as saying that the money collected from the application fees went towards supporting housing for poor rural applicants and paying teachers’ salaries.

So His Excellency Kao Kim Hourn agrees that application fees were collected.

Your report says the Khmer Amatak articles state that although there were just 500 scholarship places, as many as 20,000 students – many from rural areas – paid to apply. At $5 each, that’s pushing US$100,000.

I wonder if the Excellent Kao Kim Hourn would care to share with your readers (with supporting documentation, of course):

  1. How many applications were received?
  2. How much money did each applicant pay?
  3. Was each applicant told at the time what the money would be used for?
  4. Did the Japanese Government and Hun Sen approve the fee collection and the purposes to which it would be put before it was collected?
  5. And would His Excellency, for the benefit of your readers, graciously furnish receipts proving that all the scholarship application money received indeed went towards supporting housing for poor rural applicants and paying teachers’ salaries?

Penny Bishop
Phnom Penh

Send letters to: or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.



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