A disgraced Education Ministry official, arrested last year in South Korea for sexual assault, has been promoted into a higher pay bracket after a period of demotion, documents show.
According to a subdecree circulated online, the former head of the ministry’s Vocational Orientation Department, Kry Seang Long, was among 1,329 educators promoted in March.
The document, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, elevated the official from “the second highest professor to the first highest professor”. Seang Long was detained by South Korean authorities last May for attempting to grope and kiss an interpreter in Seoul’s Guro-Gu district.
He was in the city attending a conference on behalf of the Cambodian government. He was released after paying a $4,300 fine, initially footed by the Education Ministry. The ministry later said Seang Long had repaid the amount.
After the incident came to light a month later, Seang Long was stripped of his position, though he remained on the payroll, a common occurrence within Cambodia’s bureaucracy.
Reached yesterday, Education Ministry spokesman Ros Salin defended Seang Long’s promotion.
“He did wrong and the ministry implemented a procedure by removing his position and making him a normal teacher,” Salin said, noting Seang Long had not been prosecuted for a crime in Cambodia. “He does not have any position and, as a normal teacher, every two years, they upgrade the level.”
Salin declined to reveal the disgraced official’s current salary or whether he retained any active duties.
Though pay grade advancements are usually automatic every two years, Ministry of Civil Service Secretary of State Youk Bunna said ministries could exercise discretion to promote or demote their workers based upon their actions.
The Law on Civil Servants’ articles 33 and 35 warn that bureaucrats will be “responsible” for “acts likely to undermine the dignity and honour” of their position.
San Chey, director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability-Cambodia, said the lack of specifics surrounding violations was a problem.
“It is a lesson to learn that Cambodia should have a law to punish any officials who committed sexual assault abroad,” he said.
Ros Sopheap, who heads the NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, said the case was “really disappointing” and reflected poorly on the country’s leadership.
“It is not only this guy who has done bad things, but this happened in Korea. How does the international community judge Cambodian society for this?”