Trucks Gifted to Sok An Stir Corruption Debate

The gift of two vehicles from a newly opened car dealership to Cabinet Minister Sok An sparked SRP concern Tuesday that the gift may represent corruption.

At the grand opening of the new Mitsubishi showroom in Phnom Penh, Sok An received the keys to two new 2008 Triton pickup trucks worth a combined $65,000, said Prak Sovann, the deputy distribution director of Mitsubishi Cambodia.

“This is my generosity for Sok An…. We gave him them as a souvenir, and he can do anything with them,” he said, adding they were not bribes or intended to buy influence.

But SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann, who chairs the National Assembly’s interior and anti-corruption commission, said he was concerned the gifts were just that.

“Even though there is no corruption law, giving personal gifts can be corruption,” he said. “If there was no reason, the company wouldn’t have given them.”

Sok An hung up his phone Tuesday afternoon when a reporter identified himself.

Sok An’s cabinet chief Chea Vandeth said by telephone Tuesday that he was in Siem Reap and was unaware of the gifted pickups.

A member of Sok An’s cabinet who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Tuesday’s gifts were the first time Sok An had received cars in this manner.

“The cars are his property and he can do whatever he wants with them,” he said.

Nguon Nhel, CPP first vice president of the National Assembly, defended Sok An and said that accepting such gifts did not constitute corruption.

“The law states that giving and receiving bribes is illegal, but they were giving a souvenir openly in the public. It is not corruption,” he said.

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