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Kheng: Challenges ahead for new National Assembly

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Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, pictured at the Ministry of Interior in late 2015. Heng Chivoan

Kheng: Challenges ahead for new National Assembly

Interior Minister Sar Kheng again called on all leaders, civil servants and the national police to avoid partisanship, nepotism and abuse of power after the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won an expected landslide victory in the national elections.

Deputy Prime Minister Kheng on Sunday wrote on his official Facebook page a message intended for government officials at all levels.

He first praised them for “the great efforts in achieving major accomplishments for the country and its people, especially duties related to the recent national elections”.

Kheng’s remarks were made after preliminary results released by the National Election Committee (NEC) confirmed that the CPP will likely take all 125 seats in the National Assembly.

The election has been criticised by many Western voices for its exclusion of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

“All the results and achievements have contributed significantly to the accomplishments of the fifth legislature of the National Assembly for 2013-18 which was a great historic success, especially in maintaining peace, stability, security, territorial integrity, national sovereignty, social and economic development and [improving] people’s lives,” he said.

He said there were still challenges for the next government, which included strengthening peace, stability and rural development in order to improve the nation’s living standards.

He specifically cited the need to maintain roads, electricity, water irrigation and levels of cleanliness.

“In this regard, I strongly believe all of you are ready to take part in the responsibility with the highest willingness to promote national interests as a top priority. Do only things that are good, do not discriminate . . . and do not abuse power,” he said.

Transparency International Cambodia executive director Preap Kol said Kheng’s remarks were a “good gesture” but called for the actual implementation of what he had called for.

“I think making an appeal or sharing good wisdom from a leader is a good gesture, but it is never enough and [leaders] usually don’t lead by example, especially in the context of Cambodia where such problems are so widespread and deeply rooted.

“Therefore, messages must come with concrete implementation mechanisms and punishments if the officials fail to comply.

“To increase effectiveness, there should also be participatory monitoring and an evaluation tool in which the ordinary people can participate,” he told The Post.

Cambodia-based Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific executive director San Chey said Cambodians have a duty to pay taxes and that none can escape it. Hence, public service providers should not set conditions [to provide them with services].

“I think what [Kheng] said is the concept of leaders and, specifically, his personal perspective as a leader. Leaders’ concepts are just ideas, but in order to achieve the long-term vision of the leaders, specific policies need to be implemented,” Chey said.

“He told the officials not to discriminate, but when the officials still discriminate, they should be punished.

“Without punishment, the bad officers will continue to discriminate against people ... don’t speak to gain popularity, but speak to ensure actual implementation,” he said.

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