The director of the Ministry of Tourism’s finance department will be removed from his position because of his links to the mistress of a senior government official, Thong Khon, CPP secretary of state at the ministry, said Wednesday.
Thong Khon said the ministry’s Finance Director Chan Dara, a Funcinpec member, was being fired for incompetence and for securing his position through the intervention of a mistress.
“He received the position because of the evil fox,” Thong Khon said, though he declined to identify the woman he was referring to.
The announced removal follows recently heated verbal attacks by Prime Minister Hun Sen on the mistresses of government officials, who he dubbed “evil foxes.” Hun Sen also said he would cancel any government appointments brokered by mistresses.
Chan Dara defended his professional qualifications, stating that he began working at the tourism ministry 10 years ago after graduating from a technological institute in Phnom Penh.
Ouk Virak Cheat, Chan Dara’s brother-in-law and third deputy governor of Koh Kong province, said that he may have been singled out because his sister-in-law, classical Cambodian dancer Ouk Phalla, is in a relationship with Funcinpec and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Ouk Virak Cheat, who is part of the Sisowath royal family, said that his younger sister, Ouk Phalla, has been in an increasingly-less-secret relationship with the prince for several years and that they have a son together.
“They lived together in France, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap province. They have a two-year-old boy,” Ouk Virak Cheat said of his sister.
Ouk Virak Cheat also stated that he did not receive his government position because of his sister’s relationship with the prince, though he added that if Hun Sen now says that he is incompetent and calls for his removal, there will be little he can do.
“If Prime Minister Hun Sen says I am not qualified, I dare not to complain about it,” he said.
He added that the information about his sister’s relationship with Prince Ranariddh has become widely known because of jealousy and their family’s bad karma.
Ouk Phalla was reportedly in France on Wednesday, while Prince Ranariddh did not attend Wednesday’s National Assembly session. CPP lawmaker Nguon Nhel said the prince was sick. The prince’s Cabinet Chief Noranarith Anandayath could not be contacted for comment.
Ouk Virak Cheat’s revelation about his sister and the prince comes days after Cambodian starlet Duch Sophea said rumors of her romantic entanglement with the prince were false and had put her reputation and life at risk.
Wednesday’s edition of Kampuchea Thmey newspaper reprinted a December society column from an English-language Filipino newspaper that reported on Prince Ranariddh’s visit to the Philippines to attend the Southeast Asian Games in November.
The Visayan Daily Star column, dated Dec 1, detailed “a glittering dinner” held during the visit, attended by “Prince Norodom Ranariddh with wife Princess Phalla.” Other guests included Prince Norodom Chakrapong, Cambodian Ambassador Ok Socheat and Funcinpec Senator Mech Somaly, the report stated.
“Princess Phalla is a classical dancer and she demonstrated the intricate hand movements of the classical Cambodian dance. Watching her move oh-so-gracefully, we could see how delicate her beauty was,” the report stated, before concluding: “It was such a memorable occasion—a truly royal evening!”
Mech Somaly confirmed that she was in the Philippines with the prince, but declined comment on the newspaper report.
Speaking at the National Assembly, Funcinpec Co-Minister of Defense Nhiek Bun Chhay said he did not believe that Ouk Phalla was in a relationship with Prince Ranariddh, and called for attention to be focused on the royalist party’s internal challenges.
“So far we have some weak points that we have to strengthen,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said of his party.
He added that he did not believe that Hun Sen, who has warned of a crackdown on “elderly gangsters” who lavish money on their mistresses, is specifically targeting anyone in particular, but is more focused on a general problem.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen raised [it] in general. He didn’t raise it for any particular individual,” he said.
Opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said Prince Ranariddh should consider resignation.
“He is a public figure and a leader. He should set a good moral [standard]. This is a bad example,” said Eng Chhay Eang, who resigned from his position as Sam Rainsy Party secretary-general in December because of a gambling habit.
Chea Vannath of the Center for Social Development called for an investigation to establish where the mistresses of government officials get their spending money.