K OMPONG SOM - This province's FUNCINPEC governor Thoam Bun Sron has hit out
against the effective stranglehold the opposition CPP enjoy over rural
Bun Sron, one of FUNCINPEC's leading lights in the run-up to the elections,
says he "can't even get letter singed" without CPP approval in his province.
He claims that local CPP civil servants actively ignore his orders in
deference to their former CPP leaders who have, in practice, retained all
He said most FUNCINPEC-led provinces suffer similarly.
His criticisms appear to agree with the unease felt by some political
analysts in Phnom Penh about the effectiveness and success of the UN-brokered
elections, especially in the provinces. Bun Sron's comments paint a picture of
FUNCINPEC being hamstrung in those areas.
All Bun Sron's decision have to be agreed by the former long standing CPP
governor-now Bun Sron's first deputy-Kim Bo.
Bun Sron said Kim Bo was vetoing most of his decisions "and so if we can't
agree on anything nothing is done."
The provincial workers still work under "patronage" to their former CPP
leaders and they refuse to implement FUNCINPEC decisions-Bun Sron described this
as "passive sabotage."
However, Kim Bo said that he did not think that political reasons were the
"The important thing is that we abide by the principles of the Ministry of
Interior. We don't take any sides of the political parties," Kim Bo told the
Post in a telephone interview.
When asked why Sihanoukville municipality staff were not cooperating with Bun
Sron, Kim Bo said: "Because they were (being) entrusted with duties which are
different from (those of) the Ministry of Interior."
"Some work (ordered by Bun Sron ) was not appropriate and was difficult to
implement," he said .
"If we implement these principles, especially the idea of consensus, there
won't be any problems.
There are many cases, especially concerning administrative work, which are
not in compliance with the ministry," Kim Bo said.
Bun Sron maintained that the former provincial "socialist" setup was never
dismantled after the elections.
"The whole administration belongs to them (the CPP), it is their people and
their system... the structure has not been changed."
"Public servants in general have lived here many years under CPP leadership.
They are still owed respect... but not as we know it in the west, this is
respect as in fear,"
Bun Sron used to be the head of the FUNCINPEC party in Australia, a position
from which he resigned some time before the elections in favour of Ung Huot, the
present Foreign Minister.
Bun Sron said he couldn't make any decisions for the good of his province; "I
can write a letter but have to submit it to Kim Bo. If he doesn't consent its
too bad for me."
"They can veto me at any time on any thing... its absolutely crazy."
"He used to be the King of the Castle, but he is still in his castle," Sron
said of Kim Bo
Bun Sron said he had complained to Interior Minister You Hockry who told him
nothing could be done and that "this was the reality, this was the deal they
made between themselves (after the elections.)"
The "deal" involved splitting provincial governments between CPP and
FUNCINPEC, with each party sharing the top two spots in local administration and
each agreeing on decisions.
"(You Hockry) said 'try your best to do whatever you can'. But even trying to
get a street cleaned here is a big problem."
Bun Sron said the provincial CPP leaders "consider themselves the de facto
government ... the FUNCINPEC government is a nominal one. So in fact we do not
control. It is impossible. Sometimes I think I just want to run away back to
In CPP-governed provinces the FUNCINPEC deputies could not practice that
power of veto, he said.
"If it pleases (the CPP governor) to let their
FUNCINPEC deputies to know something its good, but it is luck."
Bun Sron said he realized that as governor he would be blamed for any lack of
progress and "that FUNCINPEC will be accused of not doing any thing."
said: "There are many good people here, no CPP or FUNCINPEC but just Cambodians
who want to help."
Bun Sron said that for the people of Kompong Som "it is their town, their
home, their lives. They have to improve, it is not for me or any political
party, it's for themselves."
"He said he wanted to make people aware that it
was contradictory to "keep playing these (political) games."
"If public servants get caught up in this campaign who will lose in the long
run? It will be themselves."
Provincial civil servants should do their work
as asked. "They are trying to sabotage me."
"They go to the extreme of trying to defend the interest of the clan. The
interest of the clan is against the interest of nation. This is the danger
Cambodian society is facing," he said.
"Nobody can support me There is no
trust, no confidence, no support," he said.