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More ministers to face questioning

Days after Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem avoided questions about illegal logging at a controversial hydropower dam site, three more ministers whose portfolios encompass such projects are expected to be called before the National Assembly.

Ruling party lawmaker Chheang Vun said yesterday that Minister of Agriculture Ouk Rabun, Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor and Minister of Environment Say Sam Al will be summoned, though a date for questioning has not yet been discussed.

Vun added that it was “not linked to logging at the Lower Sesan II” but their “individual responsibility”, which he did not explain further.

Sem was quizzed over the development of the Lower Sesan II dam in Stung Treng province after a provincial governor-turned-CPP lawmaker expressed concerns in May over claims of illegal logging there.

But after speaking on Thursday to an assembly composed entirely of fellow Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers – in a session devoid of challenges to his narrative of the dam as an answer to electricity shortages – Sem referred all questions related to illegal logging to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Kean Hor and Sam Al could not be reached yesterday, while Rabun declined to comment on what possible questioning would entail.

Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponharith said the summonses from the single-party National Assembly – the CNRP continues to boycott parliament following last July’s election – to ministers was merely a means of distracting the public from the ongoing political deadlock.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan slammed the CNRP for refusing to take part in assembly sessions.

“If the CNRP doesn’t like what happens during the National Assembly, they can show up and take responsibility by doing their job. Stop complaining and take action,” Siphan said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE

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