Five former members of the National Election Committee who have come under criticism in the past for perceived bias in favour of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have been given positions as government advisers.
The former election administrators were out of work following the appointment of nine new candidates to the NEC in the wake of an agreement between Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
Sokolak Tipor, deputy secretary general of the NEC, yesterday confirmed that former president Im Suosdey, the younger brother of former CPP education minister Im Sophy, had been made a government adviser with the rank of deputy prime minister.
Suosdey was deputy chairman of the Youth Association of Cambodia – the ruling party’s youth wing – from 1980 until 1995, before joining the Ministry of Interior.
Sin Chumbo, the NEC’s former deputy president, and past members Havan Sivilay, Sin Dem and Sor Suphary were given advisory roles carrying ranks equivalent to that of a minister.
“Only His Excellency Im Suosdey was appointed as an advisor with a rank equivalent to deputy prime minister. The others are equal to ministers,” Tipor said.
The advisers were appointed on April 11 by a royal decree signed by Senate President Chea Sim.
The decree states that the advisers were “fit to receive these titles because they are full of experience and skilled in the legal sector”.
Sivilay and Suphary said that assuming the new jobs would not be hard for them and would involve much less work than their previous roles in the NEC.
“For me there is nothing unusual about this,” said Sivilay, who from 1999 to 2006 was chief of cabinet for Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng. “I used to work in the Council of Ministers, too. It’s not so different from my previous jobs.”
Suphary said that he had only yesterday received notification of the appointment, but had not yet been told what his duties would be nor to which government agency he was being assigned.
Yem Ponharith, a CNRP spokesman, said the government was wrong to appoint more advisers as the books were already bloated by a glut of partisan appointees.
“It is regretful that these officials have been appointed from one institution to another. We want to know how many advisers there are, and what their titles are.”
In September of last year, CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha announced he was appointing 21 advisers, of which two ranked as ministers and 12 as secretaries of state.