Minister Alleges Effort to Sully EdC’s Reputation

Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem on Monday hit back at detractors following a spike in energy prices, claiming the criticism was an attempt to destroy the credibility of Electricite du Cambodge (EdC).

There have been mounting complaints about the state power provider recently, with customers questioning what they say are inexplicable increases in their energy bills.

Speaking at the inauguration of the EdC’s new $4-million headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district Monday, Mr. Sem reiterated the explanation given in an EdC statement released last week, which attributed the price spike to increased electricity consumption during the hot season.

“We received some opposing opinions and we understand that we have to cooperate with them in order to better our work, but some people are strongly opposed to us and they refuse to accept our explanation, so this is an opposition [that intends] to destroy, ” he said.

Mr. Sem went on to suggest there was a coordinated “movement” on social media working against EdC. “There may be a movement that criticized to destroy the achievements of EdC, because they attacked publicly and some criticism has been posted on Facebook,” he said.

One angry customer’s critical Facebook comments even prompted EdC officials to summon him to their office for a chat Monday, said the electricity company’s deputy head of administration, Eng Kunthea.

The customer, a hotelier whom Mr. Kunthea named as Sophy Sothea Vannsy, “criticized the EdC leader and cursed him that he would die unattended, and that EdC staff would die of electrocution,” he said.

“We called this man to meet us this morning and asked him for evidence to prove that EdC took his money by cheating on the electricity, but he didn’t have documentation and he apologized to us.”

According to Mr. Sem’s speech Monday, of the 1.3 million households connected to power by EdC, only a small number had accused it of inflating their electricity usage, and they could all be proven wrong.

“Once we found the addresses of those who accused EdC of cheating…and we have enough documents to [verify] the electricity usage at their houses, they accepted our explanation,” the minister said.

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