Opposition Calls for Keat Chhon’s Resignation

Finance Minister Keat Chhon and opposition lawmakers on Wednesday morning traded further jabs, with the opposition calling for Keat Chhon’s resignation over the corruption scandal.

The further acrimony emerged after one of the leading Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers ignited another corruption debate.

Sam Sundoeun reacted to Tuesday’s comment by Keat Chhon, who said whether he kept his financial portfolio or not is in the hands of the parliament.

“As you said yesterday, you threatened to remove yourself, but we cannot do [that]. A lot of major corruption issues before us, we could do nothing,” Sam Sundoeun said as debate continued in the National Assembly on the insurance law.

Sam Sundoeun said in other countries, when ministry corruption or inefficiency is discovered, the minister would resign immediately. Keat Chhon said he has been long prepared to resign if asked by the prime minister.

He said he wrote a resignation letter when he started in the job in 1994. “I told the prime minister already about that [letter] a long time ago and last year and now,” Keat Chhon said. “It waits to be approved by him on one day when I lose my physical and mental energy to do the work.”

“I will not cling to the power and create political crisis here as some person did in 1994,” Keat Chhon said angrily to Sam Sundoeun, referring to opposition leader and former finance minister Sam Rainsy, who was ousted by the National Assembly in 1994 as the Funcinpec-appointed finance minister after he spent more than one year in office. He has since complained about what he calls his unfair firing.

Keat Chhon also praised as remarkable the improvement of governance and the economy. In particular, he said, logging anarchy has been controlled and military demobilization is under way.

“You consider everything we have tried our best [to do] as completely dark,” he said, referring to his critics. “If it’s so dark that you are unable to see, please use a flashlight to see it; then you will see clearly how better our development [and economy] is.”

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