US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said Feb 29 that Cambodian officials are well aware of the pitfalls of managing any revenues the government may earn from oil and said he understood Prime Minister Hun Sen’s frustration over the issue.
Mussomeli made the remarks at the Sunway Hotel after helping crown the national champions of a law student competition with Bar Association President Ky Tech.
The ambassador’s remarks echoed statements by Hun Sen, who told an economic outlook conference Feb 28 that early trepidation over the possible corrupt misuse of future oil revenues was premature and “stupid.”
“The Prime Minister and the Cambodian government know that oil needs to be carefully managed and [there] needs to be a transparent process,” Mussomeli told reporters.
“I should not speak for the prime minister but I just think that you get tired of hearing the same thing over and over,” he added.
Officials at the Council of Ministers announced in October they were nearing completion of a draft law to regulate the oil and gas industry. US oil giant Chevron has completed test drilling off the coast of Cambodia and is expected to soon announce their results.
Mussomeli made his comments at the conclusion Feb 29 of a two-day legal contest funded by the US Agency for International Development.
With Ky Tech, Mussomeli presented trophies to the contest’s winners Sreng Nearirath and Khun Sonita, of the Royal University of Law and Economics, who were one of five teams each given 45 minutes to counsel a fictitious client and were judged on their legal advice.
The pair are to travel to India next month to compete with 19 other countries in the International Client Counseling Competition.
Teams from Pannasastra University and the University of Cambodia were awarded second and third places respectively.
“Winning or losing is a simple matter,” Ky Tech said at the ceremony. “Knowledge is the benefit to you brothers and sisters in gaining insight into the law in Cambodia.”