PM Agrees to Questioning of Ministers of Health, Mines

Prime Minister Hun Sen has agreed to the opposition CNRP’s request to let the National Assembly interrogate two ministers under fire for presiding over alleged corruption, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

In a letter signed on Monday, the prime minister said he would accept a request by the Assembly’s anti-corruption commission to have Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem answer for “irregularities in the export of sand to Singapore.”

Singapore recorded importing more than 73.6 million tons of sand from Cambodia between 2007 and last year, compared to the less than 2.8 million tons Cambodia said it sent there, according to figures both countries have provided to the U.N. Commodity Trade Statistics Database (Comtrade).

Parliamentarians will question Health Minister Mam Bunheng in a separate session, according to Assembly spokesman Leng Penglong.

In a letter last week, sent at the opposition’s request, lawmakers said they wanted Mr. Bunheng to explain “irregularities” at the ministry, including the sale of state facilities, poor training and oversight of doctors, and a $450,000 bribery case involving the procurement of mosquito nets raised by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2013.

“We will contact Minister Mam Bunheng to organize a suitable time to answer questions at parliament,” Mr. Penglong said. Mr. Sem, he added, would appear at the Assembly on Thursday morning.

Ou Chanrath, a CNRP lawmaker and member of the Assembly’s anti-corruption commission, promised “a lot of questions” for Mr. Sem and his staff over the sand export allegations.

“Are they [at] their job and sitting there watching it happen?” he asked. “Because it’s [gone on for] too many years.”

Cambodia is Singapore’s top sand supplier, even as other countries have banned exports because of sand mining’s destructive ecological effects.

“I think there will be questions from the CPP too,” Mr. Chanrath added.

Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman Dith Dina hung up on a reporter when contacted on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Ben Paviour)

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