Questioning Over Assembly Misspending Delayed

Son Chhay, the deputy chairman of the National Assembly’s banking and finance commission, on Tuesday accused commission chairman Cheam Yeap of deliberately avoiding summoning the chief administrator of the parliament for questioning over alleged gross spending irregularities.

On February 11, Mr. Chhay accused National Assembly secretary-general Leng Peng Long of overseeing a 2015 budget that included $25,000 to be spent on a flagpole and the purchase of 30 new cars at $200,000 each, and said that the commission’s nine members agreed to call Mr. Peng Long to explain himself.

The CNRP lawmaker said he had been pushing Tuesday morning for the questioning to occur, but that Mr. Yeap—who is a lawmaker for the ruling CPP and must sign off on a letter to summon Mr. Peng Long—had failed to do so.

“Cheam Yeap is reluctant to follow through with the decision of the committee. After last week’s meeting, he appointed me to work out a date to meet Leng Peng Long, but when I worked out the date, there was no response,” he said.

“I asked him about it yesterday, and he looked annoyed, and acted like he was not happy with me. I cannot accept this because it was the decision of the committee that Leng Peng Long would be brought to the committee for questioning.”

Mr. Chhay said he would write to National Assembly President Heng Samrin asking him to intervene and force the commission’s decision to be respected if a summons was not issued by next week.

“It might have to go beyond this committee because Cheam Yeap is blocking it—he told us during the committee meeting that he finds this action uncomfortable because he does not want to oppose those with power in the party,” he said.

“We might have to go to Heng Samrin or even to the top, to Prime Minister Hun Sen. We have to deal with this.”

Mr. Yeap could not be reached for comment, but fellow CPP lawmaker Ly Kimleng, who serves as the banking and finance commission’s secretary-general, denied that Mr. Yeap was afraid of Mr. Peng Long and said the commission was waiting for a tardy Mr. Chhay to select a date.

“No, it’s not true. It is the matter of the date,” Ms. Kimleng said. “The fact is that the [Assembly’s] secretary-general has been so busy with many meetings lately. So the head of the commission wanted [Mr. Chhay] to set a clear date for the meeting. Whenever he can give a specific date, then we can inform the secretary-general about the meeting.”

“I think Son Chhay, the deputy chairman of the commission, has mutual respect for the head of commission, so he had wanted the head to decide the date,” Ms. Kimleng said.

Mr. Peng Long’s deputy, Mith Karen, has denied the allegations against Mr. Peng Long and said that his boss would appear before the commission if summoned.

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