Teachers say an election defeat in the district led the ruling party to abandon the project and auction off the leftover construction supplies.
QUID PRO QUO
While the CPP claims that substandard work halted construction and it had nothing to do with its losing the province, Treal commune chief Din Sokran sees it this way: “They didn’t get their votes, so we didn’t get our school.”
TEACHERS in Kampong Thom's Baray district say the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) broke a campaign pledge to build a new school after it failed to win the district in last month's national election.
Prime Minister Hun Sen promised teachers a new 12-room school and reception building during a visit to the district's Tep Nimit pagoda in March, teacher Sun Thun said, adding that Kampong Thom parliamentarian and Minister of Tourism Thong Khon enthusiastically endorsed the plan.
According to Sun Thun, who is also president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association in the province, construction on the school began in May but came to a halt after the July 27 polls, in which the CPP lost 400 ballots to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in the district.
"All construction materials were removed during the night and later sold at auction," Sun Thun said. "I think the CPP spent a lot of money here, and when they didn't get the votes, they became spiteful."
A SCHOOL IS ... NOT A CAMPAIGN PROPAGANDA STUNT.
Workers completed nearly 30 percent of construction, Sun Thun said, and the district's 1,800 students face overcrowding in the coming school term if the project remains unfinished.
"The building of a school is a national achievement, not a campaign propaganda stunt," he said. "If we had the room, our children would learn well."
Din Sokran, first deputy chief of Treal commune and a member of the SRP, said the end of construction was certainly linked to the CPP's election loss in the district.
"They were angry when election results came in and showed a loss of support in the district," Din Sokran told the Post Wednesday.
Thong Khon rejected allegations that the CPP had broken its pledge, saying construction was temporarily stopped because contractors failed to meet necessary building standards.
He said the district will get a new 12-room school in a different location, as well as six rooms that workers finished before construction was halted at the old site.
"We determined that construction did not meet the proper standards, so we decided to build at a nearby location," Thong Khon told the Post Wednesday. "The school will receive more buildings than originally requested, but it won't be finished by the start of the upcoming term."