Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen’s ‘vision’ would see him bypass National Assembly, shrink cabinet




Hun Sen’s ‘vision’ would see him bypass National Assembly, shrink cabinet

Prime Minister Hun Sen (centre rear) presides over a cabinet meeting on Friday at the Peace Palace, where he called for constitutional changes to the status of secretaries of state.
Prime Minister Hun Sen (centre rear) presides over a cabinet meeting on Friday at the Peace Palace, where he called for constitutional changes to the status of secretaries of state. AKP

Hun Sen’s ‘vision’ would see him bypass National Assembly, shrink cabinet

During a cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a “vision” to shrink the country’s cabinet by excluding secretaries and undersecretaries of state from the body, and to be given the right to bypass the National Assembly by appointing them directly, according to a government spokesman yesterday. Both measures would require constitutional amendments.

Cambodia’s executive branch currently has nearly 240 members, including the prime minister, deputy prime ministers, senior ministers, ministers and secretaries of state.

Under the proposed changes, secretaries of state and undersecretaries of state would no longer be considered members of the cabinet and would be “handpicked” by the prime minister and appointed in a royal decree.

“[Prime Minister Hun Sen] feels that the government is too large because it includes secretaries of state and undersecretaries of state,” Siphan said. He wants the cabinet to be “exclusive for ministers only”.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, suggested reducing the size of government because it is “currently overstaffed at the top level”, which he said could benefit in being cut by half.

The proposed measure, however, would make little difference “except that they will be classified differently”, he said.

“After all they will still be paid under the government’s payroll.”

Paul Chambers, a Southeast Asia expert at Thailand’s Naresuan University, said in an email that the proposed changes had the potential to “allow the Prime Minister to appoint cronies for political favors, avoiding the more timely process of parliamentary approval despite the fact that the prime minister’s preferences are already guaranteed because his CPP dominates parliament”.

“The issue is that [the prime minister’s] appointments [of secretaries and undersecretaries of state] expedite his preferences,” he said.

In order for such a measure to go into effect, constitutional changes would need to be made, which requires a working group. According to a document from the Council of Ministers dated December 1, a 12-member working group was appointed to make constitutional amendments, though Siphan said he was unaware of the group.

Sak Setha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and a member of the new working group, said the team will study the Constitution to see if there are important changes to suggest to the government. He declined to say which specific amendments the group will be considering, saying it would “focus on the effectiveness of the institutions” enshrined in the Constitution.

“We already know that the Constitution bans affecting the monarchy and multiparty democratic systems, therefore the amendments aim to improve democracy and effectiveness of the institutions in the Constitution,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.