Son Chhay: Gov’t Reply to Queries ‘Not Clear’

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said Thursday that he is not at all satisfied with the answers he received from the government in response to an official set of questions he sent Prime Minister Hun Sen several months ago.

On Jan 21, Son Chhay sent Hun Sen a letter requesting that the premier provide him detailed answers to questions on a number of issues including corruption, the transparency of ticket sales to the Angkor Archaeological Park, the road toll on National Road 4, economic land concessions that exceed size limits and no-bid leases granted for a number of offshore islands.

In February, Hun Sen declined to answer Son Chhay’s queries, passing the responsibility to Cabinet Minister Sok An, who replied in a May 28 letter obtained Wednesday.

With regard to the offshore islands, Sok An said that the Council for the Development of Cambodia had given out four no-bid leases after properly consulting with the government.

“Leases are different from sales. Leases generally don’t require bidding,” Sok An wrote.

His letter also denied claims by Son Chhay that lease-holding companies had sold their leases to third parties, calling it “groundless.”

“To date, the government has neither allowed resale of licenses, nor were there requests by any company to resell licenses,” Sok An wrote, adding that the companies must develop at least 30 percent of the projected plan contracted with the government and pay at least $500,000 as a deposit on the lease.

Sok An said that despite not having passed the long-awaited anti-corruption law, the government was tackling the issue through its anti-corruption unit, which he said has taken on 41 cases, with 28 of them already resolved.

On the issues of the Route 4 toll and the Angkor ticket sales, Sok An declined to answer, claiming that Hun Sen had already elaborated on these topics with Son Chhay before.

“Lawmaker Son Chhay has asked monotonous questions,” his letter read.

On the issue of land concessions, Sok An also declined to answer, directing Son Chhay to comments made by Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun at the National Assembly last October.

Son Chhay said by telephone Thursday that Sok An’s response was not acceptable.

“The response is not clear, and no documentation was given,” he said, adding that he repeated some queries to the government because previously given answers were “not clear and reliable.”

Son Chhay took particular issue with the notion that bidding is not needed for issuing leases on islands.

“For transparency purposes, leases must be put up for bidding too,” he said. “These leases are for nearly 100 years.”

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