Angry Governor Orders Training for Chiefs

Angry at opposition party commune chiefs carrying out local improvement projects independent of the municipality, Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara has ordered his Cabinet to “train” these chiefs, the governor said on Wednesday.

“If you are acting outside the law, you must be trained” to be­have properly, Chea Sophara said.

Recently the Sam Rainsy Party has announced with great fanfare projects carried out by some of its eight Phnom Penh commune chiefs, elected in the Feb 3 vote.

Earlier this month, the party announced it was naming a renovated street in Kilometer 6 commune, Russei Keo district, after 1980s resistance leader Son Sann. It also accused the municipality of threatening to remove a drainage system it installed in Tuk La’ak II commune, Tuol Kok district.

For all his efforts to develop city infrastructure, Chea Sophara said, he’s never had his name on a street or anything else. The op­position party only won a few of the city’s 76 communes, he said, “but they dare to do things like this. Next they’ll fill a pothole on some road and name it after the chief of Kilometer 6 commune.”

The drainage project, he ad­ded, put a wrench in the city’s own drain­age improvement plans. “They have to respect the sewage tech­nicians and cooperate with the municipality’s drain­age ex­perts, or their efforts will fail,” he said. The Sam Rainsy Party commune officials argued that according to the law on decentralization, they have the right to develop their areas without asking permission.

Kilometer 6 Chief Sok Sam Bath said he made the street im­provement for the people of his commune, not as a political gesture. Before the election, he said, he promised the people better roads, so now he’s responding to their wishes.

Lun Sieng Ly, the Tuk La’ak II chief, likewise said he installed the sewage system to improve his constituents’ lives. The nearby sewage canal overflowed when it rained and affected people’s health, he said.

Another Sam Rainsy Party official, who declined to be identified, said CPP officials are afraid of their popularity will decline if people see the opposition’s effectiveness.

But Chea Sophara said that even though he’s requiring only the opposition chiefs to come in for training, the move is not a political one.

“I wasn’t thinking about wheth­er someone was from one political party or another,” he said.

“I just hope all politicians can cooperate to rebuild Cambodia.”


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