HUN SEN was voted in as Cambodia's new Prime Minister by a 99-13 majority at the
National Assembly Dec 1, and neither he nor his Funcinpec coalition partners wasted
any time in striking the new cabinet.
The CPP took 15 of the 29 ministries - including most all of those that control the
money; Funcinpec took 14, including most of the difficult social ministries. The
ministries that control the guns - Interior and Defence - are shared.
The CPP has a wealth of experience compared to its Funcinpec partner: 12 of the CPP
appointees have already had ministerial positions, whereas Funcinpec have selected
six new faces.
The important Secretary of State positions show an even greater disparity of experience:
23 of Funcinpec's 26 State Secretaries are debutants, compared to just 12 of CPP's
CPP analysts point out the undisputed strength Hun Sen has demonstrated in his party's
appointments. Nine out of ten of the CPP ministers are Hun Sen loyalists, said one
CPP official, and 60% of these people were directly appointed by Minister of the
Council of Ministers, Sok An.
Among those who lost their cabinet jobs included the ailing Chem Sgnuon (Justice,
CPP) and Ieng Kiet (Transport, Funcinpec), who have been promoted to deputies at
the new Senate, and Ieng Mouly (Information, BLDP), who has been rewarded with a
Prime Ministerial advisory slot. Also out, from Funcinpec, are Tea Chamrath (Defence)
and Nady Tan (Council of Ministers); and three party "splitters" Ung Phan
(Inspection), Pou Sothirak (Industry) and Ung Huot (Foreign Affairs). The CPP has
shed Chhea Thang from Health and Nut Narang from Culture.
It has been a rosy December for Hun Sen. He declared himself a happy man after the
Assembly vote confirming his leadership - one that went according to the pre-arranged
plan struck with Funcinpec leader Prince Rana-riddh.
The Prince has meanwhile been ensconsed as Assembly president, reunited with assets
such as his house, his cars and planes that he had previously thought lost, and heading
a party now contentedly benefitting from the CPP's largesse.
Ranariddh was reportedly as happy with the situation as Hun Sen.
Sam Rainsy began his tenure as opposition leader by calling the government a disaster.
Rainsy later began firing out press releases calling Hun Sen, among other things,
On Dec 3 Hun Sen decreed that senior civil servants could no longer import duty-free
cars, which has traditionally been a coveted and rich perk of the job, and later
the same week sacked 100 of his advisers.
Virtually every player in the international community jockeyed for the best place
in the queue to congratulate the new Prime Minister and his team, although ASEAN
did put a damper on the party by hesitating on confirming Cambodia's membership.
However, key ASEAN members Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines all said they would
support - or, at least, not block - Cambodia's membership, which will be discussed
today in Hanoi.
The US said it was happy with the new coalition and on Dec 7 the UN Credentials Committee
signalled Cambodia could re-take its UN seat that has been vacant since July 1997,
subject to a successful General Assembly vote.
Hun Sen's inaugral speech at the National Assembly Nov 30 detailed the government's
It boiled down to wide-spread reforms of the civil service, the judiciary, police
and military, and - the primary goal, the new leader said - of revamping the management
of Cambodia's economy.
Hun Sen said judges' salaries will be increased and every court verdict should be
recorded and, if a verdict was found to be corrupted, the judge disciplined.
Corruption won't be tolerated, he said, and an "anti-corruption institution"
will be set up to "mete out severe punishment on all levels of corrupt officials".
The army and police will change, Hun Sen said, to be faithful, disciplined, clean,
moralistic, modest, and respectful and full of love for the people.
The RCAF Chief of General Staff Ke Kim Yan later said that would cost around $70m.
Hun Sen spoke lengthily of the new government's commitment to human rights, including
the freedom of the press and the right of opposition parties to operate - noting,
however, that people must "avoid mistaking freedom for anarchy".