A Change of Guard

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Friday, 16 September 2016

Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong talks to the media at the National Assembly in 2014.
Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong talks to the media at the National Assembly in 2014. Pha Lina

Official silence as City Hall rumours circulate

Rumours circulating in local media that Environment Minister Say Sam Al will replace Pa Socheatvong as Phnom Penh municipal governor were met yesterday with coy non-denials from officials, including Sam Al himself.
When asked whether there was any merit to the recent scuttlebutt, Sam Al said via message only that he had “heard the rumour too”. However, when pressed as to whether it was true, or whether officials had attempted to reach him to discuss such a move, Sam Al did not respond.
Meanwhile, Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the appointment of governors, was similarly cryptic. “There was rumour about this, but officially there is nothing . . . But some rumours can be true, while some cannot be true,” he said. “I have heard about this, and there were four or five people who asked me.”
One City Hall official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also acknowledged having heard the rumour, while declining to comment on its veracity. City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada and other municipal officials similarly declined to comment.
Pa Socheatvong, who has served as Phnom Penh’s governor after succeeding Kep Chuktema in mid-2013, could not be reached yesterday.
Say Sam Al is the son of Say Chhum, a senior figure in the ruling CPP.
Additional reporting by Kong Meta

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