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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM slammed for revamped job titles

PM slammed for revamped job titles

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

month.

 

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

party members.

 

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

advisor.

 

"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.

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