King Norodom Sihamoni issued a royal decree on Saturday firing Kim Reaksmey, the commander of Ratanakkiri provincial Miltary Police, removing him from the framework of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), where he served as a general.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen is in charge of implementing the royal decree from the day of its signing,” the decree stated.
Government officials have not so far provided a clear explanation for Reaksmey’s removal.
However, the case comes after a video clip was posted on Facebook of Reaksmey purportedly giving $100,000 to each of his five children at his birthday party.
Reaksmey is also alleged to have referred to his excessive wealth in front of people attending the party.
Afterwards, photographs posted on Facebook showed a large house, allegedly belonging to Reaksmey, built from luxury timber. The public questioned the source of his wealth and whether he might have benefited from major forestry crimes in the province.
Prime Minister Hun Sen made a brief comment on Facebook accompanying a copy of the decree: “This is a painful operation. It is surgery according to the fifth principle.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan on Sunday said the fifth principle is used for removing inactive or corrupt officials without waiting for them to voluntarily correct themselves.
National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy on Sunday said it was the government’s right to dismiss Reaksmey as it can promote or replace anyone without full investigation.
But Hy could not explain the show of wealth which led to public criticism of the Military Police unit or whether it was a reason behind Reaksmey’s dismissal.
“Promoting and replacing is a normal thing and the government has the right. It is unnecessary to find a reason,” Hy said.
The Post could not reach Reaksmey for comment on Sunday, and a who woman answered the phone claiming to be his wife declined to comment.
Two NGOs said they that intended to file a complaint to the Anti-Corruption Unit and the Kratie provincial court calling for an investigation into Reaksmey’s wealth.
Pen Bunna, the senior land and natural resources investigator for rights group Adhoc, and Victory Intelligent Standard Association director Ros Sarom on Sunday said Reaksmey’s wealth had been shown to come from the smuggling of luxury timber to Vietnam.
Bunna claimed that in 2010 a senior government official working to protect natural resources investigated forestry crimes in Ratanakkiri province.
He said the official phoned him to say that in just one month around 500 large trucks loaded with timber travelled to Vietnam – with one truck capable of carrying 100 tonnes.
He said Reaksmey had also been found to have cleared 1,000ha of forest land in Kon Mom district in 2017 for private ownership.
“If we file a complaint, we will have a lawyer and we can check the case. The complaint against Kim Reaksmey will be filed to Ratanakkiri provincial court before February 25 and will include evidence – documents and pictures – showing timber they hauled from Ratanakkiri province to Vietnam,” Bunna said.
Sarom said the dismissal involves the exploitation of national wealth, especially the destruction of forest in Ratanakkiri province and the transport of timber to Vietnam.
“The complaint will be ready to be sent to the Anti-Corruption Unit in the next few days so an investigation can be launched to seek the truth for the people.”
The Post could not reach Anti-Corruption Unit president Om Yentieng for comment on Sunday.