PM: Investigate Spending by Olympic Panel

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday ordered the National Olympic Committee to account for its expenditures during the 2005 South­east Asian Games, accusing the body, which is headed by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, of ex­cessive spending during the event.

Hun Sen accused the entourage that accompanied the Cambodian ath­letes to the Philippines of flying first-class and staying in five-star ho­tels. The entourage, whose members he did not name, outnumbered the actual sportsmen, Hun Sen said.

The prime minister also an­nounced that he has cancelled Cam­bodia’s plans to host the SEA Games in 2011, and will no longer fund the national committee.

“I am disappointed that there were fewer athletes than people ac­companying [them to Manila],” Hun Sen said at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh.

“I cannot accept it,” he said. “Donors, who gave money to the Na­tional Olympic Committee, asked me because they are suspicious about the expenditures.”

Hun Sen said he has asked the Min­­istry of Education, Youth and Sport to establish how much of $25,000 provided by the ministry for the trip was spent, and that the Olym­pic committee must report back to him on some $1 million that he had raised for it. “Where is the money? How much did they spend?” he de­manded.

As president of the committee, Prince Ranariddh attended the Ma­nila SEA Games, which were held in late November and early De­cember, along with Prince Nor­odom Chakrapong and Funcinpec Senator Mech Somaly.

Meas Sarin, the committee’s secretary-general, said he did not know how much money Prince Ranariddh spent. “Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh controlled the money,” he said.

Prince Chakrapong said Prince Ra­nariddh is working out the ex­penditures and will forward the information to Hun Sen.

Pok Than, Funcinpec secretary of state at the Ministry of Educa­tion, said Prince Ranariddh always orders his staff to keep records of his spending.

Warning Finance Minister Keat Chhon that he could be fired if his ministry provides any money to the committee, Hun Sen said that he has informed the secretary-gen­eral of the SEA Games that the 2011 event will not be held in Cam­bodia. “We should not use our limited resources for what is not necessary. We can wait until 2020 or 2030, it is not too late,” he said.

He also weighed in on the decision to replace the national football team with Khemara, the team Prince Ranariddh supports, at the last minute to represent Cambodia at the SEA games.

“[They] caused trouble. The na­tional team they didn’t allow to play, but they allowed the non-na­tional team,” he said of Khemara.

Khek Ravy, president of the Cambodian Football Federation and a relative of Prince Ranariddh, said he was not disappointed by the cancellation, as building a new na­­tional stadium for the 2011 games would have been expensive. “It would have affected the national budget,” Khek Ravy said.

 

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