Villagers Petition Against Allegedly Corrupt Chief

About 100 families from a village in Kompong Cham province’s Prey Chhor district filed a petition with their commune chief last week to protest the appointment of a man accused of pilfering fish as their village chief.

The petition, bearing the thumbprints of 119 families, was submitted to the Mien commune office on Thursday after the naming of Sin Hoeun as the chief of Kes village, said villager representative Huy Vanthorn, 46.

“Villages want to re-select the new village chief but the commune did not agree to follow this request from the villagers,” said Mr. Vanthorn, who added that the villagers gathered Sunady to discuss Mr. Hoeun’s appointment.

Thim Poeu, 43, another villager, said Mr. Hoeun was known for stealing many fish during the time that he served as the coordinator of the local fishing cooperative.

“I believe that Mr. Hoeun does not deserve to be the village chief because when he was the chief of the fisheries community, he stole a lot of fish, and he will commit acts worse than that when he becomes the village chief,” Mr. Poeu said.

Mr. Poeu said villagers would not accept Mr. Hoeun if his appointment is not rescinded, and claimed that the new chief was already abusing his position. “Mr. Hoeun has threatened the villagers that he will not give his signature to people who did not support him as the village chief,” he said.

Mr. Hoeun said he had never pilfered fish as the chief of the fishing community and said the accusations were made up.

“Those villagers do not support me because they did illegal fishing and I arrested them a few times and confiscated their fishing nets,” he said. “That is just an accusation. They are jealous of me because I have a new job as village chief.”

Mien commune chief Un Dara said the new village chief was locked in and would not be changed, as the elected commune council had already met and approved the choice.

“We put three candidates forward for selection as village chief, including the former deputy chief, a member of the village, and the chief of the fishery community,” he said.

Mr. Dara explained that the former village chief, Sorn Soeun, had died at age 60 on August 14, and the law required a new village chief to be selected in a week. He said that, following this, the commune council met and chose Mr. Hoeun.

“The nine members from the CPP, SRP [Sam Rainsy Party]…and Norodom Ranariddh Party attended the meeting but only the five people from the CPP voted for Mr. Hoeun,” he said. “We cannot change it as we’ve already decided.”

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