Prime Minister Hun Sen has elevated at least 70 ruling party
politicians to new titles and ranks within the government in the last
few months at a cost to the national budget estimated at $2 million a
A lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) has blasted
Hun Sen for changing dozens of government titles in order to manipulate
the budget to favor his Cambodian People’s Party politicians in advance
of the upcoming election campaigns.
Hun Sen in recent weeks offered the titles of advisor and
minister, secretary of state and under secretary of state to several
senior CPP officials who hold government positions and to politicians
who defected to CPP from the royalist party Funcinpec and SRP.
According to a list obtained by the Post, Hun Sen elevated at
least 70 personal advisors and assistants to new positions within the
current coalition government. All of the title promotions went to CPP
Son Chhay, SRP’s lawmaker told the Post on February 19 that the CPP is
following a political strategy to reward politicians with government
titles to ensure loyalty within the party and to strengthen its
influence ahead of elections this July.
Chhay estimated the cost to the national budget of all the
advisors to Hun Sen, Chea Sim, chairman of the CPP and President of the
Senate, and Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, at $2
million per month. He estimated the three men have about 500 advisors.
The official campaign season begins in June.
Hun Sen publicly defended the appointments on February 21, saying
that anyone who defects from another party will be appointed as
"There are many who want to come. If a hundred come I will appoint them all,” he said. "I am prime minister. I have the right.
"It is in the national budget. I am running the government. I have the right to use them. Please come out. I will appoint all.”
In January, the CPP’s provincial governors of Siem Reap, Kandal,
Stung Treng, Kampong Chhnang, Svay Rieng, Takeo and Ratanakkiri, and
the governor of Phnom Penh were appointed as personal advisors to Hun
Sen along with a "rank equal to minister.”
"I think that the recent appointment of personal advisors and
promotions in title to the loyalists of the CPP is the party’s strategy
to re-make the national budget in a legal way to strengthen the party
for the election campaign,” Chhay said. "It is wrong for one political
party to use the national budget for its own benefit.”
In a statement issued on February 13, Sam Rainsy, president of the
SRP, accused the CPP of using money and offering government titles in
an attempt to disrupt the SRP in the months leading up to elections.
The statement followed the defections of dozens of senior
officials and lawmakers from the Sam Rainsy Party to the CPP. The
defectors are among those to receive the new appointments as advisors
and offered the rank equal to minister.
Rainsy criticized his colleagues who defected to the CPP. He said
they sold their conscience in order to benefit from power and money and
ignored the interest of the nation and the people.
Among them are outspoken parliamentarian Ahmad Yahya as well as
Keang Vang, Lon Phon, Chao Phally, Ngor Sovann, and Sok Pheng. All were
subsequently named advisors.
Former Funcinpec member Sin Pinsen also defected and was appointed advisor with the rank equal to minister.
Rainsy said that defecting to CPP offers no value to society at a time
when many issues such as corruption, land grabbing, the skyrocketing
prices of goods and illegal immigration and territorial sovereignty
need to be resolved.
Hun Sen warned that the CPP’s long-standing coalition partner
Funcinpec would not be part of the next government unless they win at
least one seat in the election. Funcinpec now has 26 seats.
Koul Panha, executive director of the local monitoring NGO the
Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel), told the
Post on February 20 that in the period leading up to the elections the
CPP should not be increasing government positions for people in its
party in exchange for defections.
He said that it is unethical for the CPP to routinely offer defectors new government positions.
"There were some problem within the management system,” Panha
said, explaining that the promotions may make the politicians happy but
they don’t help the government operate.