Principal Under Investigation Over Embezzlement Allegations

A high school principal in Prey Veng province is under investigation for allegedly embezzling school funds and illegally grabbing school land to build a private residence, teach­ers and provincial officials said Sunday.

On Nov 4, the Cambodian Inde­pendent Teachers’ Association sent a complaint to the education minister on behalf of 19 teachers at Ras­mey Sammeky high school in Peam Chor district’s Svay Phlos commune, according to CITA Presi­dent Rong Chhun.

In the letter, the teachers accused principal Hun Seap of moving the school’s roadside fence 2 meters in­side school grounds in order to widen the road for easier access to his family home, which he allegedly built on school property with school money, said Rong Chhun.

Rong Chhun said the problem should be resolved soon before it starts affecting the students.

“The teachers are seeking intervention from Minister Im Sethy. They want the school to remain a state property, the fence to be moved back to its old location, and the principal to be fired because of his lacking capacity in management and responsibility,” he said.

Hun Seap started renting the 16,500 square meter plot of land in question in 2000 to farm on, said the school’s deputy principal Khiu Song and administration director Chhay Bunthan, but in 2004 he began to ignore the rental fee.

“The rental prince increased to nearly 1 million riel [$241], but he ignored the payments,” Chhay Bun­than said.

The high school’s 32 teachers originally went on a two-day strike in October to protest their principal’s actions and demand government intervention. Hun Seap denied the accusations Sunday, claiming the teachers are trying to defame him.

“I’ve lived here since 1981,” he said, explaining that he and two other teachers each received a plot of land around the school from the district’s former education director.

Regarding the fence, Hun Seap said the district governor gave him permission to spend school funds to widen the road.

District Governor Chann Deit confirmed this and asserted that Hun Seap rightfully owned the land.

“He’s not illegally taking the land,” Chann Deit said.

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