NATIONAL Assembly first deputy president Nguon Nhel said yesterday that Assembly President Heng Samrin had written a letter defending him against charges from the opposition that he employed an excessive number of advisers.
Last week, a group of 13 lawmakers from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party wrote to Heng Samrin alleging that Nguon Nhel employed 71 advisers and asking for an investigation of this “irregularity”.
Nguon Nhel said yesterday, however, that the National Assembly president had come to his defence.
“Samdech Heng Samrin’s note said that having advisers is, according to the law, the indisputable right of all officials at the leadership level,” Nguon Nhel said. “This is justice for me, and it was a reasonable note according to the law.”
The SRP lawmakers alleged in their letter that the government pays a total of US$26,730 in expenses each month for Nguon Nhel’s advisers.
Among these advisers, the SRP said, is Nhem Thavy, a lawmaker from Kampong Thom province who is also Nguon Nhel’s brother-in-law.
Nguon Nhel said earlier this week that he was considering bringing a defamation suit against the SRP lawmakers who had written the letter. He said yesterday, however, that he considered the matter closed and was no longer considering such a suit.
SRP parliamentarian Ho Vann said yesterday that the opposition members had no intention of defaming Nguon Nhel with their letter, and were only seeking information.
“We asked so that transparency can be ensured for the National Assembly, parliamentarians and citizens,” Ho Vann said. “It was only a request for explanation.”
Nguon Nhel has declined to say the number of advisers he employs.
“I abide by the law and Royal decrees, and all requests are made in accordance with administrative law,” he said yesterday.
Cheam Yeap, head of the National Assembly’s Finance and Banking Committee, said this week that he employed three advisers, but that senior officials were authorised to employ larger staffs.