Senior government officials on Monday defended the appointment of a new batch of advisers to the Ministry of Interior, saying the promotions are needed to improve work efficiency.
In a royal decree dated February 2, King Norodom Sihamoni named 50 new advisers to the ministry, a position equivalent to under-secretary of state.
The promotion followed the appointment of nine secretaries and under-secretaries of state at the ministry on November 10 last year.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed as baseless, the criticism that the appointments are a waste of the national budget and said the promotion was made after a thorough review by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
“It is the need of our leaders to facilitate workflow and to meet the real demand of the ministry. Some advisers do not take a salary. Before promoting an individual, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has reviewed and determined that it would lead to more efficiency. The ministry knows clearly how much the appointments would cost,” he said.
Ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan echoed Siphan’s defence and rejected criticism that some advisers are incapable of performing their advisory roles.
“The promotion is inevitable; it depends on the ministry request. It is also meant to bestow honours on some government officials who have helped to develop the country from scratch until we achieved peace and development. We don’t leave them behind.
“The promotion also depends on the accomplishments and merits of each individual and most advisers do not take a salary or any allowance,” he said.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the promotion is meant to show appreciation of the individuals’ contributions, either to the Kingdom or the ruling party.
Phea said some people who have been made advisers also use the position to facilitate their business.
“Most of them do not actually give advice. The promotion aims to thank people who have served the state and the [ruling] party. Most of them have retired and put considerable efforts in the government’s work."
“Some of them also hold a position at other state institutions and when they receive the new promotion, they will get even higher position and status,” he said.
The government has continued to request the promotion of secretaries of state, under-secretaries of state and advisers since its formation following the July 29 national elections.
Last year, acting head of state Say Chhum also signed a royal decree appointing 46 officials as personal advisers to Prime Minister Hun Sen, while 55 others were promoted to secretaries of state and senior ministers.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also added a new batch of 82 assistants to his cabinet in a sub-decree dated September 14.