I am writing in response to the article "Government, US start training sessions for future spokespeople" (July 7, 2009).
I think this is a good start by the government to equip each ministry with a designated spokesperson, but I disagree with the senior government official who stated that the problem we are facing right now is the lack of human resources to fill these positions.
In my opinion, this might have been true during the 1980s and 1990s, in the wake of the Khmer Rouge regime. But this can no longer be used as an excuse.
Many government officials are well-educated and have graduated from local and international universities with financial support from the government through scholarships each year, not counting the years of personal work experience in their various positions.
In addition, NGOs have often provided additional resources, including technical assistance.
In fact, some government officials are even teaching at universities.
I do not think it is a difficult thing to create the position of spokesperson for government individuals or ministries.
The difficulty lies in whether any potential spokespeople will be allowed to speak, and who might be interested in doing such a difficult job.
Cambodia has a long tradition of everyone deferring to the boss, who rarely delegates responsibility or decision-making to others.
In fact, decisions tend not to be made until the boss makes them, even if action on any particular issue has to be put on hold.
This approach can be a barrier in the maintenance of Cambodia's governmental bureaucracy, as sometimes a long period of time can pass before permissions, agreements or other documents can be obtained from government bodies.
Therefore, I would suggest that government officials should open their minds and encourage staffers under their supervision to take more responsibility and to help in capacity-building.
They must delegate some of their obligations in order to improve the quality of government services.
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The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.