A Change of Guard

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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Yentieng shuts down query into envelopes

Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Om Yentieng (centre), speaks to the media yesterday during a press conference at the unit’s headquarters in Phnom Penh. Sreng Meng Srun

Yentieng shuts down query into envelopes
Tue, 26 April 2016 ppp
Lay Samean and Niem Chheng

The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Om Yentieng, yesterday dismissed a request to explain the contents of envelopes he distributed to soldiers earlier this month by, in essence, declaring: we ask the questions, not you.

In a video clip posted to Facebook, Yentieng addressed a letter submitted by head of the Khmer Power Party, Sourn Serey Ratha, on April 8 asking for clarification regarding envelopes Yentieng gave to Division 3 troops in Preah Vihear during the ACU head’s visit to the border province on April 6.

Yentieng invited Ratha to file an official complaint but said neither he, nor the ACU, had an obligation to respond to such a request, which also demanded to know how many envelopes were distributed.

“We are not afraid, because we went there with transparency,” Yentieng said.

“According to law, only the ACU and justice police of the ACU have the right to request this person or that institution to clarify regarding corruption; besides them, no one has the right to send a letter to ask about this issue.”

He then reiterated: “It is only the ACU who has the power to clarify – only the ACU. [Ratha] has no power.”

Responding yesterday, Ratha said it was “unjust” that a law would stop people from querying the country’s main anti-corruption body, and its members, on their own track record.

“If any law against corruption forbids other institutions or citizens from questioning this unit on corruption, it’s unjust,” he said.

Regarding the envelopes to soldiers, Ratha said he would pursue the matter, but through the correct channels.

“Up to now, I don’t have any official invitation from the ACU [to discuss the case], because the KPP is a political organisation and we cannot go to a meeting with any organisation without an official invitation,” he said.

Pushed on whether he believed Yentieng had broken any laws, Ratha would only say: “I wonder what was in the envelopes.”

“I don’t make any accusations … but I need Mr Om Yentieng to answer what is in those envelopes … If he does not answer, I will still request for him to answer,” he said.

Additional reporting by Shaun Turton

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