Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema on Tuesday dismissed allegations in a pro-opposition newspaper that he had paid $1 million to keep his job and was involved in corruption stemming from the city’s road construction and renovation projects.
The governor said he would not sue the Moneaksekar Khmer, or “Khmer Conscience,” newspaper, which on Tuesday printed the allegations, attributed to anonymous municipal officials.
“It’s a big misunderstanding,” Kep Chuktema said in a telephone interview.
“The governorship is not so cheap. It would cost more than that,” he joked of the alleged $1 million fee.
“The Cambodian People’s Party does not appoint officials for money. Appointments are made according to the people’s and the country’s interests,” he added.
Kep Chuktema said he had read the article and did not consider it constructive criticism, and warned that his patience was limited.
“As Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier this month, the CPP isn’t overly concerned with money. I am very busy at work and I have no reaction to such information because it is untrue,” he said.
“That’s an opposition paper,” he added. “They won’t print [favorable articles].”
Moneaksekar Khmer reporter Khim Sambo stood by the anonymous quotations in his article, which stated that Kep Chuktema had paid $1 million not to be removed, and had skimmed large amounts of money off municipal road construction and maintenance projects.
The report cited Street 109 in Prampi Makara district as an example of poor workmanship.
Kep Chuktema said the cost of all roadworks were split evenly between the municipality and commune residents, and that the transactions were monitored by a committee led by municipal First Deputy Governor Mam Bun Neang and were audited by the Finance Ministry.
“So how can I be corrupt, especially when officials come from the Sam Rainsy Party, Funcinpec and CPP, and work together at all levels on construction and renovation projects?” he asked. “I may not be perfect but I pay close attention to the quality of road work.”