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Hun Sen says no room for lying civil servants

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith speaks at an event in May in Phnom Penh.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith speaks at an event in May in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Hun Sen says no room for lying civil servants

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday reminded newly minted civil servants to focus on serving the people, saying there was little room in public service for bureaucrats who lied, while also using the opportunity to take a potshot at Information Minister Khieu Kanharith.

Speaking to around 700 new civil servants who had graduated from the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, the prime minister narrated a folktale about four ministers in a king’s court – one who was honest, one who was careless, one who was a liar and one who was a sycophant.

Hun Sen said there was only room for the first two in the government, saying honest officials were desirable, but even careless officials could be trained to be better. He then pivoted to talk about officials who lied – including to their wives, specifically calling out Kanharith.

“They go to visit somewhere, return home and lie to their wives, and the wives believe them,” he said, turning around to the ministers and officials on stage. “Maybe you, Kanharith? But Kanharith will lie to his wife, but he will not lie to me.”

Hun Sen also publicly chastised Kanharith earlier this month after he questioned the appointment of a new director for state-run broadcaster TVK.

Political commentator Cham Bunteth said the premier was sending his officials a message to stay in line.

“He has put more effort in picking his cabinet and civil servants, and has been holding his government more accountable,” he said.

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