Tycoon and longtime ruling Cambodian People’s Party member Ung Bun Hov has resigned from his position as an adviser to the government with the rank of minister, according to an official decree.
A construction and telecommunications magnate, Bun Hov is the director of AZ Distribution, and has previously held a number of government positions, including as a secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
His company has gained a number of lucrative government contracts, most notably an open-ended deal to privatise National Road 4 for an unspecified annual fee – a contract that was plagued by allegations of corruption. AZ Distribution also had a mining licence in Mondulkiri province, according to Global Witness.
Bun Hov was released from his advisory duties after he requested he be let go without pay, according to a Royal Decree signed on April 6 by Senate President Chea Sim.
“Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has to implement the decree from the date of the signature,” the decree reads.
Bun Hov would not reveal the reasons for requesting he be removed from his official duties.
“This is a personal thing. You cannot ask me more about this in the future,” he said yesterday.
Bun Hov has long been a supporter of the CPP, but rumours abounded in political circles in the run-up to the 2013 general election that he had become sympathetic towards the opposition and had even contributed money to their campaign.
Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for local rights group Licadho, said that while Bun Hov was indeed said to have supported the opposition, the real reasons behind the decision to end his tenure as a government adviser could not be known outside of the CPP’s inner circle.
“In Cambodia, businesspeople always try to get roles [in government] that make it easier to do business,” he said. “Thus we were surprised to hear that [Bun Hov] had resigned from the position and has no further place in this government.”
Yim Sovann, a CNRP lawmaker, categorically denied that the party had received any money from Bun Hov.
The tycoon was granted the title of oknha in 1996, according to a royal decree, and was previously a lawmaker for Takeo province. He was made a central committee member of the Cambodian Red Cross in 2006, and was later appointed as a secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DANIEL PYE