Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema appeared during an interview with Voice of America Khmer on Friday to have backed down from his recent threat to sack a district governor, though he and other City Hall officials declined to discuss the matter on Sunday.
During a meeting at City Hall on May 4, Kep Chuktema told city officials that he would seek the replacement of Chamkarmon district Governor Lo Yuy, whom he accused of accepting bribes from two “illegal” karaoke clubs.
“I would like to announce that I will request that the Ministry of Interior replace you,” Kep Chuktema said, addressing Lo Yuy.
“I have a report that you take money every month from the clubs,” he continued. “This case is a serious case, and I say it is time to change the district governor. I cannot receive blame because of you. I know it is difficult for you to crack down because you take bribes from them.”
However, VOA Khmer reported Friday that Kep Chuktema had said in an interview that there was “no need” to investigate Lo Yuy. The report said he had denied ever levelling the bribery accusations.
“I did not accuse Lo Yuy of taking bribes from karaoke clubs,” VOA Khmer quoted Kep Chuktema as saying.
“I only said, ‘The drug problem and sex abuse was happening in your area. So what does that mean that it still happens in your area? You don’t know, or you pretend not to know?’”
Reached on Sunday, Kep Chuktema declined to answer questions about the conflicting statements, saying he was too busy.
Municipal cabinet chief Nuon Sameth and Lo Yuy also declined to comment.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong said only Kep Chuktema could discuss the issue. “He was the one who made the warnings,” Pa Socheatvong said before hanging up on a reporter.
On April 25, municipal Anti-Human Trafficking Police raided the Nam Trea Karaoke Club, where they found drugs on the premises and arrested 39 people, seven of whom were sent to jail.
More than 100 people were rounded up during a raid in early May on the Mega Karaoke Club in Boeung Keng Kang I commune. Men Ra, head of the Anti-Drug Research Bureau of the Military Police, said at the time that police had confiscated marijuana, ecstasy, methamphetamines and “instruments for using drugs”.