An opposition lawmaker has called for the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications to appear before the National Assembly and answer to allegations of bribery and illegal business activities.
Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay sent a request to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Tuesday asking him to call Telecommunications Minister So Khun before lawmakers.
In the request, Son Chhay alleged that So Khun has improperly amended a telecommunications contract, illegally holds a salaried position on the board of directors of a private phone company and mismanaged other phone contracts, creating $10 million in unpaid debts to the government.
Son Chhay’s statements were based on allegations made by unidentified Telecommunications Ministry employees and sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this month.
So Khun already has denied the claims in writing to Son Chhay. But his responses were inadequate, Son Chhay said during an interview on Tuesday.
Whether So Khun goes before parliament, however, is up to Prince Ranariddh. Advisers to the prince on Wednesday said they were not aware of Son Chhay’s request, and it remained unclear when the prince would respond.
Son Chhay accused So Khun of amending a contract between a private company and the government without proper authority, changing a 35 percent profit the government would receive to a 10 percent profit, and of extending the contract.
In his denial to Son Chhay, So Khun maintained the amendment was approved by the government and is legitimate.
Yet Son Chhay claims he has information from a “reliable source” who also alleges So Khun receives a $5,000-per-month salary as a member of the board of directors at Mobitel, a prominent phone company owned by the Royal Group investment company.
“This [salary] can be looked at as a bribe,” Son Chhay said. “It’s a lot of money.”
In an interview Wednesday, So Khun denied he is a member of the board of directors at Mobitel but said he sometimes acts in an “advisory” capacity. The minister said he occasionally receives varying salaries from the company, but that none of them are as high as $5,000 per month.
“I never received any bribe at all from telephone companies,” So Khun wrote in his response to Son Chhay’s accusations.
So Khun is also accused of mismanaging other telephone contracts and of failing to collect revenue owed to the government by different companies.
Companies owe as much as $10 million to the Telecommunications Ministry under So Khun’s watch, Son Chhay wrote the prince. So Khun also denied this claim.
The ministry “has tried hard to collect the debt that telephone companies owe the state,” he maintained.
And the debt was not as high as $10 million. Through collection, the ministry has managed to lower the debt to about $8 million, So Khun wrote.