New Minister: Only Hun Sen Can Stamp Out Corruption

The incoming Minister of Rural Development says he is “powerless” to root out the recent cases of corruption by members of his ministry. Minister Ly Thuch claims instead that only Prime Minister Hun Sen has the power to remove two of his subordinates from the ministry.

Yim Chhay Ly, the CPP secretary of state for Rural De­vel­op­ment, and Ly Pros, the director general, have both been implicated in several cases of corruption. Double-billing of road development, a case of missing materials given by donors to Untac officials and the alleged illegal development of municipal land were  investigated by different authorities, according to documents.

The documents show that the Ministry of Inspection, the Ministry of Finance and the office of the Prime Minister all have proof of wrongdoing—naming both Yim Chhay Ly and Ly Pros.

Hun Sen is aware of the wrongdoing, and it will be up to him and the Ministry of Finance to settle the disputes, Ly Thuch said in an interview at his office Thursday.

“This problem is out of my hands,” he said. “I’m a member of the government. My boss is the prime minister. Whatever is his decision, I will abide by it.”

Ly Thuch was appointed to his new post Aug 21. After the official ceremony, which has yet to be scheduled, he will take care of “issues still remaining,” he said. “The day I swear in.”

Ly Thuch wants corruption out of his ministry, but said he will focus mostly on the provinces, overseeing road development and poverty alleviation programs worth some $200 million.

“As the youngest member of the government family,” he said, referring to his new appointment, “I will do what my elder brothers tell me to do.”

He declined to comment further, referring all questions to others on his staff.

The most recent misuse of power, officials say, is the promotion of four men into Rural Development positions by Ly Pros.

Ly Pros, with the backing of Yim Chhay Ly, appointed two new deputies for himself and two men from outside the ministry to head newly created departments, ministerial and parliamentary officials say.

Those promotions, which Ly Thuch said were done without the approval of the minister, are illegal, said Keo Remy, a National Assembly member and secretary for the commission that oversees Rural Development. The promotions are against the laws that govern civil servants, he said.

“Only the minister has the right to make proposals [to Hun Sen] to promote officials,” Keo Remy said.

“They appoint their friends… not the right man for the job…as a way to get the money,” Keo Remy said. “That’s corruption.”

Contractors in the provinces use as much as 25 percent of their budgets for kickbacks to Rural Development officials, Keo Remy charged, causing them to cut corners on construction materials and quality of work.

Ly Pros said earlier this week that the appointments he made have been approved by Hun Sen, and he will go forward with the promotion ceremony, scheduled for today.

Ministers in Cambodia do not have hiring or firing power for positions like those held by Yim Chhay Ly or Ly Pros. Because they are appointed, they must be removed by an act of Parliament or an order from Hun Sen.



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