A group of 23 lawmakers has sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking that he remove Ly Pros as general director of the Ministry of Rural Development, who is accused of stealing land.
Ly Pros and other ministry officials were accused of being involved in the scandal that included double billing rural road projects that were funded by donor money, particularly from the Japanese government.
Officials alleged Ly Pros took 3,265 square meters of the 22,331 square meters of land owned by the Ministry of Rural Development in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district.
Ly Pros downplayed the accusations and the lawmakers’ request. “This is an old story,” he said. “I am not worried about this. I have no problems.”
The government launched an investigation into rural development spending two years ago after Japanese Embassy officials and an inter-ministerial team discovered that one road project appeared to have been built for private use, while two other projects bore signs indicating they already were built and perhaps paid for by Germany.
The findings prompted Finance Minister Keat Chhon to put a hold on a $570,000 disbursement request by the Rural Development Ministry.
The lawmakers said in their letter to Hun Sen that “those who committed wrong and take state land as their own must return the lands to the state and receive administrative punishment.
“To have it as a lesson, we request to remove [Ly Pros].”
Funcinpec lawmaker Keo Remy, who collected signatures for the letter and who raised the issue in the National Assembly last week, said instead of being removed, Ly Pros was promoted. Yim Chhay Ly, secretary of state for the Rural Development Ministry who is also accused of being involved in the scandal, appointed Ly Pros as director general of the ministry.
(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)