PM: No More School Land-Swap Requests

Prime Minister Hun Sen once again warned against the swapping or leasing of land belonging to public schools and hospitals, claiming that he recently de­stroyed documents requesting the swap of a Phnom Penh high school.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony Tuesday, Hun Sen said that he was asked on Oct 7 by Mini­ster of Education Kol Pheng to sign-off on a land swap involving Chamkar Mon district’s Pon­hea Hok high school, but that he destroyed the request instead.

“I asked His Excellency Kol Pheng to stop requests for swapping schools from now on,” Hun Sen said.

The prime minister insisted that Kol Pheng was not to blame, saying the minister was only passing along a request from ministry secretaries of state Mak Vann of Funcinpec and Im Sethy of the CPP.

“The requests claimed that the buildings were deteriorated,” Hun Sen said, adding that the problem is not a political issue. “It is not because of Funcinpec or the CPP,” he said.

The prime minister claimed that he was aware of other deals involving two hospitals in Siem Reap province and a naval base in Phnom Penh, but did not name the institutions or the companies that were involved in the land swaps.

Kol Pheng, Mak Vann, and Im Sethy could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Soy Nhen, inspector-general for the Ministry of Education, said that he had received reports from investigators about land swaps involving schools, but he would not say which schools were involved or how many.

“Those who took the money to run such affairs are facing big problems,” he said, adding that the ministry will be setting up a new office to investigate reports of land swaps involving schools.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teach­ers’ Association, pointed out that the prime minister has recently made the same warnings and said that only time would tell if Hun Sen’s words will stop the swapping of school land.

“We wait to see if it will be effective,” he said.


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