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Rong Chhun vows to defy parade ban

Rong Chhun vows to defy parade ban

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President of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association Rong Chhun at his office in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district yesterday.

In defiance of a directive from the municipality, the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association has vowed to hold a march of at least 350 teachers, parents and students to deliver a letter to government ministries demanding better conditions for its members.

Rong Chhun, president of CITA, said yesterday that Phnom Penh Municipal Hall’s decision to restrict those expected to assemble to celebrate World Teacher Day on October 5 within the confines of Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park impinged on their right of association.

“It is a restriction of freedom and [the right to] congregate at a parade, and in my observation, our freedom of expression in Cambodia has been reduced to zero,” he said.

A letter sent by Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng does, however, allows 15 CITA representatives to deliver the letter to the Ministry of Education and the National Assembly.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The letter that CITA intends to deliver calls on relevant government departments to establish a system that more fairly distributes an annual bonus for civil servants that was established in 2010 in recognition of individuals’ level of experience.

The bonuses, which begin at 3,500 riel [US$0.86] and are raised by 20 percent each year, failed to fairly reward teachers who had gained valuable experience years before they were introduced, CITA said.

Rong Chhun said that if teachers received pay raises that recognised their experience and the year level they taught, it would encourage his members to take greater control over the direction of the education sector.

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