Members of a party unable to garner a single seat in the National Assembly at July’s national election will hold undersecretaries of state positions in at least 28 different government ministries.
In an interview yesterday, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told the Post that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party appointed the Funcinpec members because of their collective years of practical experience.
Nhek Bun Chhay, Funcinpec’s secretary-general, confirmed the high-level positions to which members of his party have been appointed since the July 28 election.
“The Cambodian People’s Party has made the appointments according to an agreement made at a meeting in March,” Bun Chhay said. “The CPP then said they would take Funcinpec as a partner in this fifth mandate.”
He added that the appointees are qualified to serve in their respective capacities and have been working with CPP officials for years.
“They already have experience and are assets to the state,” Phay Siphan said. “These were not politically motivated decisions.”
Although voters opted not to vote for Funcinpec during the national election, Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said yesterday that he sees little wrong with the CPP’s decision.
Those appointed to high-ranking positions in the current mandate seem to hold acceptable degrees of experience, regardless of their political affiliations, Virak said.
“I don’t see what the problem is,” he said, pointing out that presidential cabinets in the US often include members of political parties out of favour with the voting public.
But independent social analyst Kem Ley was worried that offering so many of these positions to Funcinpec members, who would require “large salaries”, would add to the government’s expenses and present another obstacle to increasing salaries for long-suffering civil servants.
“If we understand the government loses manpower when they have to pay larger salaries, we can choose undersecretaries appropriately; taking into account salary requirements in addition to skill,” Ley said.
“If appointments are made without taking into account each department’s real need, I don’t think the ministries will function successfully.”