The National Olympic Committee has replaced Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh as its president after he failed to fulfill his professional duties for six months, a senior NOC official said Monday.
The committee’s governing body has elected Thong Khon, a CPP secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, to replace the embattled prince, said NOC Secretary-General Meas Sarin.
“The National Olympic Committee has just elected Thong Khon to lead the sports organization legitimately because Prince Ranariddh has not performed his duties here since March,” Meas Sarin, a CPP official, said by telephone. He added that the vote was held Oct 2.
“When we have a new working mechanism in place, we can improve things in terms of spending and funneling income for sports development,” he said.
Prince Ranariddh beat a hasty retreat from Cambodia on March 14, the same day that Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the NOC to account for its expenditures during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games and accused the body of excessive spending. Hun Sen accused the entourage that accompanied the Cambodian athletes to the Philippines of flying first class and staying in five-star hotels.
In September, Hun Sen said the NOC had wasted nearly $1 million raised through fundraising projects that he had launched, and said he would be diverting the funds to the Cambodian Red Cross, which is headed by his wife Bun Rany.
Prince Ranariddh returned to Cambodia after a 5-month hiatus in August.
Meas Sarin said he hoped that Thong Khon will help salvage the NOC’s reputation. “From now on we can attract international support and we can restore the [NOC’s] image,” he said.
Prince Ranariddh’s spokesman Chea Chanboribo declined comment on the prince’s replacement, other than to say “leave it to national and international opinion to give justice to [Prince Ranariddh].”
The prince’s public affairs adviser Ok Socheat said Prince Ranariddh is more interested in focusing on Funcinpec’s internal affairs than on sports.
He added that the prince was not guilty of lavish spending when he headed the NOC.
Thong Khon could not be reached for comment Monday.
Nine of the 11 members of the NOC’s governing body attended the vote to replace Prince Ranariddh, and voted in Thong Khon’s favor. The nine are all CPP officials.
The other two members, Prince Ranariddh and Funcinpec Ministry of Education Undersecretary of State Bou Chum Serey, did not attend the vote.
After the vote, CPP Ministry of Interior Secretary of State Nuth Sa An was appointed first deputy president of the NOC, while RCAF Admiral Ung Sam Khan was appointed second deputy. Ly Kosal, an RCAF general, was voted in as treasurer.