After being praised for showing accountability, the director of Cambodia’s state-run broadcaster Television Kampuchea is back at work, thanks to Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who has refused to accept
Kem Gunawadh quit on May 17 after the longtime director’s channel failed to broadcast the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, which was overseen by King Norodom Sihamoni and held in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.
The resignation had been greeted by many Cambodians as a rare sign that officials were being held to account for their failures.
But in a letter to Gunawadh yesterday, Khanarith said he had called a meeting with senior TVK officials to discuss his resignation.
“Through the ideas collected from the officials in the meeting, as the result, they did not accept your resignation request as director-general and suggested to me that you keep your position,” Kanharith wrote in the letter. “Therefore, I’m not allowing you to resign from the position and would like you to carry out your work normally.”
A senior TVK official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to the Post that during the meeting with Kanharith, which the official attended, they came to the conclusion that Gunawadh should not resign.
“Yes, we encourage him to stay at his post,” he said, adding that a minority of senior TVK staff were not happy about the decision, while most accepted it.
After the resignation last week, an official at the station told the Post that employee relations behind the scenes at TVK were tense, with staffers “unable to unite to work together”, which may have contributed to Gunawadh’s decision to hand in his notice.
TVK deputy director-general Pang Nath was appointed as acting director in Gunawadh’s absence.
The decision was received badly by staff, some of whom threatened to strike if the promotion became permanent, the official in the meeting with Kanharith said.
After resuming his role at the station yesterday, Gunawadh called for officials to put aside their doubts over his competency.
“The minister said to put my full energy in my work and to avoid mistakes,” he said. “I want the TVK officials to come together.”