The government plans to transfer the land recently received from Kong Korm, a senior adviser to the Candlelight Party (CP), to the National Election Committee (NEC) to build a new office building, according to a senior NEC official.

NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida said on January 17 that the government had given the land to the NEC for official use.

He said the location, in village 5 of Tonle Bassac commune in Chamkarmon district, is ideal as it is large and in the centre of Phnom Penh.

“The location of the new office building will contribute to safety and public order. We intend to begin construction as soon as possible; however, this will depend on the budget available,” said Sorida.

Committee for Free and Fair Elections advocacy coordinator Korn Savang welcomed the return of state-owned land to government management, saying it was the right thing to do.

“It is not just a matter of Kong Korm’s land alone. The government should review all land and buildings owned by government officials or the private sector and ensure that the titles are in order, otherwise, this action will be seen as a political decision,” he said.

Savong added that the law must be enforced equally and transparently.

Korm could not be reached for comment on January 17.

The CP adviser and his wife Seak Oy decided to return the 5,290sq m of land and a house to the state after Prime Minister Hun Sen requested the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to investigate whether the possession was illegal. Korm and his wife have arguably held the title since January 19, 2015.

“As I have made an error, and did not fully understand the correct procedures for applying for possession of a house and land, and to make sure that the ACU does not waste their valuable time investigating this case, my wife and I would like to voluntarily return this house and land to the state,” wrote Korm, in a January 12 letter.