Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Op/Ed : CCHR Faces Transparency Questions

By Kok Sap
September 12, 2006

Since CCHR inception, none had ever heard its Board of Director public statement to press about organization. Even during its director imprisonment, none ever seen or heard Board Directors utterance over agency function. All have seen and heard of CCHR is Kem Sokha alone.

Also note, Mr. Kem Sokha had stated the problem occurred over a year ago but why did he not correct it internally? It is his job to address management and employee problems. All left impression that CCHR operation must use a singular position which stemmed rivalry in both as policy maker and administrator. Not for profit organization is the most notably difficult for the management to handle even in US but why Mr. Kem Sokha neglected his job for this far?

If it is so, the IRS 501 (c) (3) codes may have been critically as far as entity receiving public funding especially US tax dollars. All understood USAID is the primary funding source and a federal and public supported agency. In accordance with Freedom of Information Act, that has raised legitimate questions for any taxpayer to request copy of annual report, financial statement, internal control policy, financial policy, and audit report if any finding irregularity corrected timely.

It is rather interesting for Mr. Clean to have thorns on side over contractual agreement in let go 12 people due to 30% reduction, if it is credible, in $800,000 budget. This is not unheard of in public funded agency of budget cut and people lost jobs. Also the allegation from laid off workers is normal. But the suspicion is that CCHR Board of Directors has no say so all these years but only Mr. Kem Sokha. It is rather critically and unusually.

Beside it is unlikely for such large US fund given to a foreign country without attaining not for profit organization status. Yet the public needs to know, if the policy making -Board of Directors and administration (Kem Sokha) is in place and separated body. The question remains why no Board of Directors Chairperson comes out to make any statement over the allegations to the public and press. Where is the Board of Directors and what is its position in regard to the internal disagreement?

Out of huge budget cut, if it is true, what is the actual cost to retain 12 workers? What is the operating expense for the entire operations? What is the cost for the President and his assistants in salary? What is CCHR President overseas travel allowance annually? Is there anything can be cut in management to save workers?

Now it is the time if CCHR has a sounding Board with transparency, therefore, it must perform its role and responsibility. It must come out to hear and investigate the allegations. Also if there is a problem in organization such as CCHR employee complaint, it is the Board role to see the merit in part of agency or the administrator.

In all aspects, the consideration should be taken to assure the credibility of the administrator and the Board. The Board of Directors must declare position internally in regard to internal disagreement before any public statement made by its administrator. But all happened seems fit allegations that elevate the lack of credibility of internal control and singular operative.

Clearly, Mr. Kem Sokha has his hands fuller than ever if this situation becomes out of control. Who knows what the ramification could lead to, if the employees' claims merited? The open end conclusion may included but not limited to fraudulency, management impropriety, and best if taxpayers pushed, USAID may have to suspend fund until further notice

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