Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated that government officials as well as all authorities must carry out their duties and responsibilities effectively within their jurisdiction according to laws, without having to wait for his orders, while social observers express support on his remark.

“I remind all officials to follow the laws, but do not wait for orders to act. For cases like this, I always remind them not to wait around until Hun Sen shouts at them and then rush to go do it. Please don’t do that. Just try doing your duty,” he said at the opening of the new academic year at the Royal School of Administration last week.

The premier also reminded all government officials about the three-stage approach in leadership and work.

“As I’ve mentioned previously, the approach to leading and working has three stages: We must prepare by making a specific plan to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation. And then prepare an action plan and assign duties for implementation, while at the same time we must be prepared to deal with coincidental factors that may appear at any time that we cannot predict,” he said.

He said that if an official can address the issues that occur by coincidence and cannot easily be planned for in detail, it is a measure of that official’s real capabilities.

Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International (TI) Cambodia, applauded the prime minister’s warning to those officials who do not perform their duties properly and sit around waiting for orders from the top.

“I would like to encourage him to establish a systematic monitoring mechanism under the framework of the Ministry of Civil Service or within each ministry to evaluate professional conduct through the human resource management system. There should be encouragement and promotion of officials who perform their duties well,” he said.

Pisey said that some government officials have in the past used their positions or roles merely as sources of leverage while focusing on their private business, rather than thinking about their roles in serving the people.

“The government needs to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of work and the provision of public services, rather than employing an excessive number of officials, which wastes the national budget,” said Pisey.

Similarly, People’s Centre for Development and Peace president Yong Kim Eng supported the premier’s instructions to strengthen the role of civil servants to be more directly responsible for their roles and responsibilities and not just wait for orders from the prime minister.

“In the past, with some situations, [Hun Sen] has put in place measures to be implemented, but the implementation is just for a certain period of time only or until there was another order. If there is no additional order from the prime minister or the upper levels of government, the officials just tossed the problem off to the side. To be fair, there are also more active officials as well,” Kim Eng said.