Chheng Kim Sun has been moved up and out of his position as Forestry Administration (FA) director to an undersecretary of state role at the Ministry of Agriculture, a move one rights observer suggested was largely a face-saving one for an official who saw deforestation grow on his watch.
The royal decree, dated February 24, promotes Kim Sun effective immediately and names his deputy, Ung Sam Ath, new director of the FA.
“This is their decision and we cannot oppose their decision . . . if I had not been successful, the government would not promote me,” Kim Sun told The Post yesterday, adding that he was a natural choice for his new role because of his 27 years’ worth of experience in the Forestry Administration.
In 2010, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Kim Sun as he took his post that he could face punishment and even jail time if he did not curb deforestation.
Yesterday, Pen Bonnar of rights group Adhoc said he had failed in that task.
“According to the premier’s own remarks, we should be holding him responsible in eyes of the law for the destruction of the forest,” Bonnar said, claiming deforestation had happened on an even larger scale under Kim Sun’s watch.
“The government transfers and promotes the ones who have committed wrong, even when the public sees there are serious problems and they deserve to be punished … the government changes them to get another position in order to avoid them being punished,” Bonnar added.