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Salary cut off for absenteeism

One month after the government announced a systemic crackdown on ghost workers, the Ministry of Education suspended a Sihanoukville administrator for alleged absenteeism, according to a copy of the disciplinary letter.

Seun Thy, 38, a former primary school teacher employed at the town’s education office, was suspended for a year without pay due to “idleness,” said the letter dated January 12.

Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron said the suspension was decided on following complaints from the office director, who feared the Anti-Corruption Unit would blame him for allowing corruption.

“Soeun Thy used to teach at Preah Sihanouk primary school, but he never came to teach, so he was transferred to the town’s education office, but he still does not come to work,” Naron explained.

Thy admitted that his office splits the day into a shift schedule, and that he only comes to one shift per day. But he says the practice is commonplace.

“I come to the office five days per week, and never miss any day, but we just come one shift. So do other officials. They teach at private classes to support their livelihood. So why do other staff have no problem?” he said, speculating that his support of the opposition may have motivated the allegations.

Sihanoukville education officials could not be reached.

But Naron said since the crackdown on absenteeism was announced, he has received several complaints against ghostworkers, including against Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association.

“There is no work to do at my department, how can I go and sit for fun?” Chhun said. “I go two times per week.”

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