Assembly Secretary-General Stonewalls Over Misspending

The secretary-general of the National Assembly, who has been accused of allowing gross misspending and nepotism in parliament, spent two hours Tuesday refusing to answer questions over allegations from lawmakers on the Assembly’s commission on finance and audits, according to the commission’s vice chairman.

The accusations against Leng Peng Long, parliament’s chief administrator, were first raised by senior CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay following a meeting of the commission last month, in which members agreed to summon the secretary-general over spending irregularities in the National Assembly’s 2015 budget.

In a 2 1/2-hour closed-door meeting Tuesday, Mr. Chhay, vice chairman of the second commission, said he asked Mr. Peng Long about the alleged misspending—including the purchase of 30 new cars at $200,000 each, $25,000 for a flagpole and $52,000 for a gate.

Leaving the meeting, Mr. Peng Long declined to speak with reporters.

“Go ask him. He is the organizer,” the secretary-general said, referring to Mr. Chhay.

The opposition lawmaker said Mr. Peng Long was no more forthcoming during the meeting, responding to every question by saying he would have to confer with CPP National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

Mr. Chhay said he asked for the commission to be allowed to review contracts between parliament and private companies and look over $11.5 million in spending on “services”—such as visits by foreign delegations or trips abroad by Cambodian parliamentarians.

“He dare not address this issue…. He offered nothing and referred [questions] to the president of the National Assembly,” he said. “Today, we have not yet resolved this big problem because we are waiting for His Excellency the secretary-general to ask the president of parliament.”

Mr. Chhay said Mr. Peng Long told the commission that he did not have the authority to release documents on National Assembly spending.

“We requested documents on bidding, how many companies bid, how much they bid, what type of equipment was needed and which company offered it,” he said.

“For the related documents, the secretary-general said every time that it was difficult because he is just the chief-of-staff for the president of the National Assembly. To get any document requires permission from the president of parliament,” he added.

“We think it is not right that the secretary-general is hiding documents.”

Mith Karen, the Assembly’s deputy secretary-general, declined to comment Tuesday and referred questions back to Mr. Peng Long.

However, Chheang Vun, a CPP lawmaker and spokesman for the National Assembly, said Mr. Chhay had no right to demand documents from parliament’s administration.

“The second commission has no right to demand documents or check reports,” Mr. Vun said.

“The head of the commission, Cheam Yeap, has to make a request to the standing committee, and then the standing committee will create a special committee to see if an inspection is necessary,” he added.

“If I was His Excellency Leng Peng Long, I wouldn’t answer to the second commission because the secretary-general has accountability only to the president of the National Assembly.”

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