Inspection Ministry staff have complained to Prime Minister Hun Sen that Minister Khun Haing won’t delegate authority and has given his brother too much decision-making power.
In a letter dated May 4 and signed by 60 of the ministry’s 280 employees, Khun Haing is accused of doling out power to a small group of officials, including his brother, Khay Khun Heng.
The letter says Khay Khun Heng was appointed director of the minister’s cabinet three months ago and has the ability to approve or reject decisions made by the ministry’s other secretaries and undersecretaries of state.
Khun Haing’s maneuvering has left as many as 65 percent of the ministry’s officials with nothing to do, the letter states.
“We do not like to come to the office and do no work every day,” Sath Ly, a staffer with the ministry’s administration department, said Sunday. “I want some work to do, whether it’s a small or big job.”
The letter also alleges the work the ministry does often fails to meet government expectations.
“[Khay Khun Heng] has done nothing to investigate and inspect illegal logging in Samlot, Battambang or Ratanakkiri,” said one undersecretary of state who did not want to be named.
Aside from logging, the ministry has also been ordered to investigate two high-profile corruption cases, most notably allegations of theft by top Electricite du Cambodge officials.
Two previous attempts to uncover problems at the EdC foundered in 1998 and 1999 because some officials took bribes from the electric company, according to investigators. It’s unclear what progress has been made in the most recent EdC probe, which began in February.
According to the letter, ministry officials have received about $5,000 in bribes from the EdC and continue to take tens of thousands of dollars from other government offices.
Khay Khun Heng admitted Sunday that some ministry officials are unhappy. But, he says, they have no evidence to back up their claims of corruption.
He defended his brother’s actions, saying that administrative changes within the ministry are responsible for what he described as only a temporary lack of work for some ministry staff.
Ministry heads are trying to give officials jobs that are appropriate for their level of experience, he said.
“The minister has the right to assign any officials to be in charge of work and won’t order someone who is not smart enough to do the job,” Khay Khun Heng said.
Ministry Deputy Director General Khim Chea Sophon said Sunday that three of the ministry’s 11 departments are still awaiting an overhaul, leaving 160 officials “not clear what their exact duties are for the ministry.”
“The system is not perfect,” Khim Chea Sophon said. “But I think the minister plans to assign every official work [based on their experience].”