Funcinpec’s recently removed Minister of Labor Nhep Bunchin said on Tuesday that he was suspended earlier this month after being framed by jealous colleagues wary of his efforts to reform the ministry, and urged the government to provide a fuller explanation for his sacking.
Following a National Assembly vote to replace Nhep Bunchin on May 23, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Nhep Bunchin was being investigated for his alleged role in the charging of improper fees to Cambodians registering to work legally in Thailand and preparing to take up jobs in South Korea.
The former minister was also being examined for his role in allegedly sending workers to Saudi Arabia illegally, Hun Sen said.
“I have not committed any corruption. I didn’t know my mistake,” Nhep Bunchin said by telephone after returning from the US to Cambodia in recent days.
Nhep Bunchin said that he had not received a formal explanation of why he was removed and suspected that officials beneath him at the ministry had manipulated information against him after he tried to implement reforms.
He also pledged to release documents proving his innocence within the next two weeks.
Ministry staff “twisted the information. It is jealousy,” Nhep Bunchin said, adding that Funcinpec should ask the CPP why he was removed.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Nhep Bunchin was removed with Funcinpec’s approval, though he declined to elaborate on the allegations against him.
Vong Sauth, the CPP labor ministry secretary of state who replaced Nhep Bunchin as minister, declined comment on his predecessor.
Officials said late last month that the Ministry of National Assembly, Senate Relations and Inspection was set to examine Nhep Bunchin’s activities at the ministry.
Inspections Minister Men Sam An declined comment on Tuesday. Nouv Sovathero, Funcinpec spokesman, also declined comment.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said he believed the removal was politically motivated.
“This is the government’s strategy to control the ministries,” he said.