Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kampong Speu judge questions self-proclaimed oknha who deceived villagers

Kampong Speu judge questions self-proclaimed oknha who deceived villagers

Kampong Speu judge questions self-proclaimed oknha who deceived villagers

A self-proclaimed oknha was interrogated by the Kampong Speu provincial investigating judge after police produced him in court on Saturday for allegedly refusing to give money belonging to villagers who sold their land through him.

Speaking to The Post on Sunday, provincial court deputy prosecutor Ou Phat said an official announcement of the case might be published on Monday.

“I don’t know what decision will be made regarding the case nor do I know the name of the investigating judge, but I know the one who handled the case was deputy prosecutor Khai Samphors,” Phat said.

Khai Samphors, from Kampong Speu provincial court, had issued a summons on February 1.

It “ordered the authorities to bring So Sarim, male, 41, Khmer national, born in Angkrang village, Preah Sre commune, Oudong district, Kampong Speu province to the provincial court before February 21, 2019, in response to the claims of ‘confidence violation’, in Romlech village and Dara village, Preah Sre commune, Oudong district on June 8, 2018”.

Attempts to reach Samphors for additional comments were unsuccessful.

‘Feeling duped’

Kampong Speu provincial deputy police chief Nhem Sao told The Post that upon receiving the summons, his team arrested the suspect on Thursday and sent him to court on Saturday.

The suspect was known by people in their villages as an oknha, which roughly translates to “tycoon”, and a land broker who purchases land from many villagers, he said.

“I just followed the court order. I did not prepare the case nor did I receive a complaint from anybody."

“The suspect owed a lot of money to them [villagers]. They were often promised to be paid on the days he finds convenient,” he said.

Sao said Sarim kept promising the villagers that he would solve their problems immediately. Feeling they have been duped multiple times, the villagers decided to file a complaint at the Kampong Speu provincial court.

The complainants, Sao continued, will attend court on Monday to provide evidence and call for “heavy punishments for Sarim”.

He said the suspect claimed himself as an oknha but never showed the royal-decree, signed by the King, that grants the title.

Kampong Speu provincial police chief, Sam Samuon, said he has been informed of the case but not aware of the details.

He noted that he is still waiting for the official announcement from the court.

“Oknha” is an honorific title that is often conferred on elites in Cambodian society. To receive the coveted title, a request had to be approved by the Council of Ministers, then the prime minister and then signed by the King."

Prior to 2017, a minimum investment of $100,000 was required for a businessperson to be bestowed the “honorific” title, after a new sub-decree was signed on March 20, 2017, the figure increased to $500,000.

According to estimates, at least 700 people held the title in 2017, compared to about five before 1975.

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong