Former CNRP activist nabbed for offering online English classes

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Keo Thai was arrested at home for teaching online. Supplied

Authorities detained a high school teacher in Kampong Chhnang province on Thursday after he was caught conducting online classes despite the fact that schools had been ordered to close temporarily to prevent Covid-19 infections.

Keo Thai teaches at Boribo High School in Kampong Chhnang and is a member of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (Cita) in the province as well as a former member of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

He was arrested and sent to Phnom Penh on Thursday after announcing to offer online English classes, his daughter Keo Rachana said.

She said police surrounded their house at 6am and told Thai to come out, but he refused to do so because the authorities did not have an arrest warrant.

But at about 7am, she said, the provincial court prosecutor reached the house.

“I asked for an arrest warrant but he said that he is the prosecutor. He confiscated three phones which belong to me and my parents. Then, he wrote a letter regarding the confiscation.

“He said if I do not allow him to check the house, he would further sue my family as he had already had an arrest warrant,” she said.

When Thai came down, provincial authorities put him in their police car, while Rachana was left wondering why he was arrested.

“My father stopped teaching extra classes when the Minstry of Education ordered all schools closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. He then began teaching online,” Rachana said.

The arrest came a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen said a teacher and former Cita member had announced on social media the opening of extra classes.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Sovichea declined to comment on the arrest, and referred reporters to an annoucement that the ministry made on Thursday.

The ministry’s annoucement said: “Teaching extra classes is banned in the period of fighting against Covid-19 infections. The ministry will take action against offenders.”

While confirming Thai’s arrest, National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said the teacher is involved in many other cases.

“He was a suspect who incited and conspired with traitors, especially when he was an activist. He was on the court’s [black] list but was spared any legal action by the government. Instead, he was put under court observation.

“After he was forgiven, he didn’t seem to change. He even created more problems by producing inciteful news, which means he did not change.

“He is still inciteful. He has been sent to Phnom Penh to be legally processed and sent to court,” he said.