Fallen Tourism Officials Back in Top Posts

The government recently re­instated a top Funcinpec tourism official who was fired for his alleged role in a visa scandal and promoted the former CPP director-general of the Ministry of Tourism who had been stripped of his post, officials said.

Sambo Che, former undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Tourism, was reinstated late last month to the same position in the ministry after officials found “no evidence implicating him” in any wrongdoing, Sisowath Chivan­nariddh, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Tourism, said on Sunday.

Sambo Che, who was fired from the ministry in January, was accused of forging visa documents that allowed Cambodians to travel to the US.

According to Sisowath Chivan­nariddh, however, authorities found no evidence linking Sambo Che to any criminal behavior.

“The nightmare is over,” Sambo Che said last week. Also, speaking on Sunday, Sambo Che expressed his happiness that the government decided to reinstate him to his ministerial post.

“I’m looking forward to the new challenges, and I am looking forward to a positive future,” Sambo Che, who is the son-in-law of co-Minister of Interior You Hockry, said on Sunday.

The government also recently promoted former director-general of the ministry So Mara to serve as the new director-general for the ministry’s administration and finance department, according to a royal subdecree dated Oct 21 and signed by King Noro­dom Sihanouk.

So Mara was dismissed in July 2001 from his position after it was discovered that he granted partial control of the Preah Vihear tour­ism concessions to Thailand. He was demoted to a “civil servant” position. Prime Minister Hun Sen demoted So Mara at the urging of several National Assembly members, who blasted the former director-general for the Thai pact.

The question that remains now is why So Mara was promoted.

Both Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth and Ministry of Tourism Secretary of State Thong Khon confirmed that So Mara was promoted to serve as the director of the ministry’s administration and finance de­part­ment, but declined to say why the government chose to promote him.

Both officials said they would abide by the government order, but would not elaborate.

So Mara, speaking on Sunday, said that he was “very happy” that he was promoted.

He added, however, that he had “no idea why I am promoted. I will follow the government’s decision. I am just one official who always follows orders.”

 

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