City Defends Principal Against Graft Accusation

The Phnom Penh Municipality Education Department has defended the principal of a lower-secondary school following a Thursday protest by 17 teachers and 200 students who accused their headmaster of wrongdoing and called for his removal.

Em Ham Khuon, deputy director of the municipality’s Education Department, said that there was no evidence supporting the protestors’ accusations against principal Chan Oun of Meanchey district’s Obek Ka Orm school.

“The strike against the principal was illegal,” Em Ham Khuon said. “What mistakes has the principal made? I don’t see that he has [done] anything wrong.”

Em Ham Khuon claimed that the 17 teachers involved in the protest had bribed the students by promising higher scores on their final exams in exchange for their participation in the protest.

The teachers and students demanded the Education Depart­ment remove Chan Oun for al­le­ged­ly misusing funds allocated by the Ministry of Finance for the teach­ers’ Pri­­­ority Action Program, said Cam­bo­dia Independent Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­ation President Rong Chhun said.

Rong Chhun said he had also written to Minister of Education Kol Pheng on Friday to demand action.

Kol Pheng could not be reached for comment Friday.

Chan Oun, who has been the school’s principal since 1999, denied the accusations, saying he did not understand the teachers’ and students’ protest.

“If I am not giving fair treatment, how come the rest of the school’s teachers are supporting me?” he asked.

(Additional reporting by James Welsh)

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