After the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville that has claimed the lives of dozens of people, Prime Minister Hun Sen has accepted the resignation of Preah Sihanouk provincial Governor Yun Min.
The Chinese-owned building collapsed in the early morning of Saturday, leaving scores dead and injured. Rescue workers have continued to locate victims and they suspect more are still buried beneath the debris. The death toll rose to 28 yesterday, according to rescue workers.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, on Saturday called for those responsible for issuing construction permits to resign or be sacked.
In a statement after visiting the construction site on Sunday, Mr Hun Sen said Mr Min asked to resign from his position.
“When I was working in Preah Sihanouk province, Governor Yun Min recognised his mistake regarding the management of his jurisdiction that caused a painful thing to happen,” Mr Hun Sen said. “He asked me if he could resign from his position.”
“I have agreed to let him resign and discussed with Samdech Sar Kheng to bring His Excellency Kuoch Chamroeun, Governor of Kampong Cham province, to be Governor of Preah Sihanouk,” Mr Hun Sen added, noting that Mr Min will continue to lead a search and rescue operation for victims of the collapse.
Mr Hun Sen’s noted that Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, was also relieved of his duties.
“I would like to confirm today that I decided to fire Nhim Vanda from his senior minister and first vice president position at the NCDM due to a lack of accountability and for [providing inaccurate information],” he said.
In a directive, Mr Hun Sen said senior minister Kun Kim will replace Mr Vanda as first vice president of the NCDM.
Mr Chamroeun declined to comment yesterday, while Mr Vanda and Mr Min could not be reached for comment.
However, in a Facebook statement Mr Min said: “This fills me with sorrow and I apologise to the families of victims.”
“In response to this accident, I have already asked Samdech Techo Prime Minister [Hun Sen] to accept my resignation,” he added. “[Hun Sen] agreed.”
King Norodom Sihamoni yesterday afternoon removed Mr Min from his position via a royal decree, which noted that he will be transferred to work at the Ministry of Interior and will be replaced by Mr Chamroeun.
The decree also noted that Un Chanda, governor of Preah Vihear province, will become the governor of Kampong Cham and deputy governor of Svay Rieng province Prak Sovann will be promoted to be governor of Preah Vihear.
Mr Min’s resignation was applauded by members of civil society and the public, including TI director Mr Kol.
“Removing him was the right decision and is very welcomed,” he said. “In fact, they should not free him from further accountability and responsibility over what happened under his leadership.”
“What about those officials who went to inspect the building twice and failed to stop construction before the building collapsed?” he added.