Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday reiterated his warning to Funcinpec’s ministers of health and education to not swap or sell land belonging to schools or hospitals, again leaving some confused as to what transactions he was referring to.
“I wrote letters to [Minister of Education] Kol Pheng and [Minister of Health] Nuth Sokhom to protect the land for schools in the cities and provinces,” he said during a speech broadcast on Apsara Radio Station.
The prime minister did not specify which locations he was referring to, but implied that sections of land belonging to schools and hospitals were being sold off for other projects. Hun Sen first made his allegations in a September speech but gave no details at that time either.
“If we have 10 hectares of land we must keep it all,” Hun Sen said Tuesday. “We need the land for football fields.”
Kol Pheng could not be reached for comment, but Education Secretary of State Mak Vann said that the ministry would implement Hun Sen’s order.
“The ministry will respect Samdech’s recommendation,” Mak Vann said, but added that the ministry itself has no authority to sell or swap land.
“The ministry cannot do that,” he said.
Nuth Sokhom could not be reached for comment and CPP Health Secretary of State Mam Bunheng referred questions back to the minister.
Funcinpec First Deputy President Lu Laysreng said that none of his party’s officials would sell land belonging to schools or hospitals.
“No one would dare to do that,” he said.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, said that two schools—the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and another school in Siem Reap—had already been swapped with private companies long before Hun Sen’s speeches.
He added that the prime minister should have known about those two deals.
“Even small issues must be decided by Hun Sen,” Rong Chhun said, adding that the prime minister’s speech probably had more to do with politics than with protecting schools or hospitals.
“His comment has discriminated against Funcinpec ministries,” Rong Chhun said.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied that Hun Sen’s speech was meant to target the CPP’s coalition partner, but added that he too was unaware of any schools or public hospitals that had been swapped or sold.