Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP says corruption allegations are ‘revenge’ for CPP’s election losses

CNRP says corruption allegations are ‘revenge’ for CPP’s election losses

Commune officials work at the Tuol Sangke II commune office yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.
Commune officials work at the Tuol Sangke II commune office yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district. Pha Lina

CNRP says corruption allegations are ‘revenge’ for CPP’s election losses

Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that calls for a corruption investigation into an opposition commune chief who sought donations to fund his office were acts of “intimidation” and “revenge” after the ruling party’s June 4 electoral losses.

Sam Choeun, who was elected chief of Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke II commune for the CNRP, has been accused by his second deputy chief – the Cambodian People’s Party’s Uk Khema – of illegally collecting funds in a box, which he says was to help run his office.

Choeun said he got the idea from a local resident and had presented the donations box to the Tuol Sangke II commune council before using it. However, he said Khema – who could not be reached yesterday – had taken photographs of the box and reported him to authorities.

“I don’t think this is wrong because the law doesn’t forbid us to do so. It is corruption if I take the money and put it in my pocket,” Choeun said, explaining that he scrapped the idea once it became clear it would be controversial. “They were not happy with it, so I took it back.”

Russey Keo district administrative head San Sophorn said he believed that Choeun’s fundraising activities were not legal, because sub-national administrations were only supposed to use their allocated budgets and were not allowed to personally raise money. “So, we see the box that he put there as wrong.

There is [other] money given for development, for salaries, commune materials, and other stuff,” Sophorn said, adding that a report was sent to City Hall and he was awaiting instructions on the next course of action.

Sophorn said that officials were also looking into reports from five CNRP-held communes across his district where the new opposition chiefs had appointed personal assistants. He said that the first and second deputy chiefs were already assigned as the chief’s assistants.

Sovann, the CNRP spokesman, said he believed the calls amounted to politically motivated targeting of new chiefs after the opposition’s strongest showing ever at the June 4 elections, and that it came while much larger corruption issues plaguing the country went untouched.

“It is a kind of intimidation. Rather than giving advice on how to work better, they want to take revenge. There should not be this culture of revenge,” Sovann said. “They should be investigating big corruption which is costing the country millions of dollars every year.”

The CNRP outperformed the Cambodian People’s Party across Phnom Penh, taking 57 of the 105 communes and taking five of sweeping Russey Keo’s seven communes. Some CNRP commune chiefs had a bumpy start to their terms after outgoing CPP commune chiefs refused to allow them to occupy their assigned offices.

Choeun, the Tuol Sangke II chief, said the blowing up of a minor issue seemed an attempt to hinder his administrative work. He said he had to instead use some of his own money to fund his activities and was taken aback at the allegations of corruption for fundraising. “I think this is to deter me to work as a commune chief. When something like this just happens, it is hard for me to work correctly,” he said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan, who initially called attention to Choeun’s fundraising in an interview with local media, reiterated that Choeun had no right to raise funds from citizens and said it was a violation of the law. “Why did he collect money from people? This is against the law governing the sub-national administration. He just came, and has already caused problems.”

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42