Nine officials from the Pailin provincial land management department have thumbprinted a petition for the removal of their director and his deputy, accusing them of incompetence due to a lack of leadership and pertinent skills as well as engaging in discrimination and corruption.
In a letter dated February 5 addressed to Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara and seen by The Post on February 21, the group requested that their superiors be replaced with officials who could foster departmental unity and cooperative productivity.
“We are dissatisfied with the leadership of land management department director So Sokhon and the deputy director in charge of the cadastre Keo Sovath, who are incompetent and unskilled in cadastral work, uncommunicative and discriminatory in opinions and decisions in an inappropriate manner. They are unsuitable as leaders,” the petition said.
The accusation against Sokhon said his mismanagement had led to a deep rift in the department. He was accused of ignoring recommendations and procedures while precluding officials from performing their tasks – instead delegating to preferred interns – and of withholding from officials half of the stipends allotted for their out-of-office assignments.
Sovath was accused of being unqualified for his position, misusing assistants for his personal interests and failing to perform official duties resulting in delays and unresolved cases left for others to address. He is also accused of running a separate, unofficial registration scheme which defrauded the public.
Sokhon, however, denied the charges, telling The Post on February 21 he had heard that minister Sophara had already written a letter to the petitioners stating that no action would be taken.
He disputed the allegations that he was partisan and discriminatory, claiming that he had never had any problems with subordinates in the past and that work went on as usual.
“Working proceeds as normal. It’s their problem for those who complained. Among the complainants are two officials who have been transferred to other positions and are no longer under the control of the department,” Sokhon said.
Recently appointed Pailin provincial governor Ban Sreymom told The Post: “It is not yet possible to say which side is right and which is wrong because I am still new here. I’ve already become acquainted with all of those involved, and most importantly, I am reviewing all the work that was done in the past".