A political battle within the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation has hobbled that ministry’s ability to handle its business, according to the chairman of the National Assembly committee in charge of Public Works and Transport.
Son Chhay, who chaired a meeting of his committee Monday at the National Assembly, urged Minister Khy Taing Lim and his two secretaries of state, Ahmad Yaya and Tram Iv Teok, to cooperate with each other.
Tram Iv Teok is a member of the CPP; the other two men are Funcinpec members.
“The Minister must have enough power to make a decision,” said Son Chhay, who is a member of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.
He said his committee learned of the power struggle when they prepared a report on the ministry.
In some instances, the report found that the top leadership sometimes passed notes to each other through assistants rather than talk face to face.
Son Chhay also questioned why Tram Iv Teok made a deal with the AZ construction company to maintain Road 4 without the approval of Khy Taing Lim.
“We cannot accept this working system,” Son Chhay said.
Tram Iv Teok replied that the deal was approved by Khy Taing Lim, but the minister immediately denied that he had approved the deal. “I knew nothing about AZ,” he said.
Son Chhay raised additional issues with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, charging that Secretary of State Ahmad Yaya took bribes of $1 to $6 for each license plate and driver’s license he signed.
Son Chhay said a lower-ranking official, such as the general director of transportation, should sign the driver’s licenses and license plates.
Ahmad Yaya, contacted after the meeting, denied that he received any bribes.
“I never ever get bribes from anyone,” he said. “It is not true. If I did that I must be a rich man.”
Nevertheless, Khy Taing Lim told Son Chhay after the meeting that he would reassign the job of signing driver’s licenses and license plates to another official.
Son Chhay also asked about the problem of right-hand drive car owners. He said the committee was concerned that people might use unsafe, second-hand parts to change their cars to left-hand drive, as required by the law, leading to problems or even accidents.
But Ahmad Yaya said he had heard of no troubles from the people who had changed their cars to left hand drive.
“I believe the owners will be safe even if the spare parts they use are second hand,” he said.