Water Supply Authority Director Shoots Back at Corruption Charges

May Titthara / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Sim Sitha accepts an award with his staff. He is now under investigation on charges of corruption. AKP

The General Director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) yesterday denied a slew of corruption allegations published by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), including one that he hired 500 employees after they paid $3,000 apiece for a job. The PPWSA – once a beacon of success and transparency in the Cambodian government – has come under fire recently, with charges of a corrupt hiring process and bribery. 
PPWSA director Sim Sitha’s open letter to the ACU, published yesterday on the ACU’s website, said that only 313 employees had been hired between 2013 and 2015, and that none had been required to pay for their positions. 
In his letter, Mr. Sitha said he recruited the employees in response to the actual needs of the Water Supply Authority. He also defended the PPWSA’s bonus policy, which gave raises to many of its employees, saying that the decision to give the raise was reached by a committee. 
“I do my entire job without forgetting anything or without reporting to the board of council,” he said in the letter. “If officials and employees were incompetent, the PPWSA could not increase its profit every year like that.” The PPWSA has been recognized for providing a world-class standard of water to Phnom Penh residents. 
Along with defending himself against allegations of corrupt hiring practices, Mr. Sitha defended the Water Supply Authority against charges that officials gave out free water in exchange for bribes. 
He called the claim “unfounded,” saying it was based on word of mouth and dubious statistics. 
Meanwhile the ACU, which is responsible for prosecuting cases of alleged government corruption, has put the case on hold while it waits for further paperwork from Mr. Sitha, president Om Yin Tieng said yesterday. 
Mr. Sitha is far from the first Cambodian public official to be accused of corruption. According to a report by Transparency International, in 2015 Cambodia was seen as the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia.

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