The National Assembly (NA) on Monday will put a vote of confidence in appointing and reshuffling five ministers and appointing five senior ministers, said NA spokesman Leng Peng Long in a press release issued by the General Secretariat of the National Assembly on Friday.
This follows a request by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a March 27 letter to NA president Heng Samrin asking for the NA’s vote of confidence. The vote will see the appointment of five senior ministers who were former ministers and the reshuffling and the appointment of five new ministers in their place.
In the letter, Hun Sen appointed Cham Prasidh as Minister of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation. He remains at the helm of the ministry that just changed its name from Ministry of Industry and Handicraft.
He also requested the appointment of Kert Rith as Minister of Justice. He was previously the ministry’s secretary of state and replaces Ang Vong Vathana.
Chea Vandeth, a Takeo provincial parliamentarian and chairman of the NA’s Commission of Planning, Investment, Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment and Water Resources was appointed Minister of Posts
and Telecommunications in place of Tram Iv Tek.
Chhit Sokhon, the secretary of state at the Council of Ministers and former Preah Sihanouk provincial governor, was appointed Minister of Religions and Cults in place of Him Chhem, while Prum Sokha, the secretary of state at the Ministry of Civil Service and the former secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior was appointed Minister of Civil Service in place of Pich Bun Thin.
Chhem, Vong Vathana , Iv Tek and Bun Thin were appointed Senior Ministers in charge of Special Missions.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan on Sunday declined to recognise a letter shared on social media, saying only the prime minister knows the appointment and the reshuffle which will be confirmed through a letter to the NA.
He said the letter shared online may have been leaked, and that the reshuffle of the four ministers had been long planned by the prime minister.
“Beginning with this mandate, Samdech [Hun Sen] said he will make some changes during the first half of the mandate. This reshuffle is prepared by the prime minister who takes responsibility as head of the government,” he said.
Siphan said the change had nothing to do with the current situation in the country and the world that is occupied with facing the Covid-19 pandemic. A committee is dealing with the disease with the prime minister as chairman, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and Minister of Health, Mam Bun Heng as vice-chairmen.
“The reshuffle in the Council of Ministers affects only the specialist ministries. It is done for the effectiveness of work that was initiated by the prime minister. So, I regard this as a leaked message that is difficult to be taken for consideration. ”
The law on organisation and functioning of the Council of Ministers under Article 21 stipulates that there must be a vote of confidence if the Prime Minister proposes to change or replace NA members. After the NA votes, the new members shall be appointed by the King.
Kin Phea, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the ministries involved in the reshuffle were not much involved in people’s daily lives, especially the ministries of Civil Service, and Cults and Religions.
The people did not pay much attention to the two ministries, he said, adding that greater attention was paid to ministries that involve the management of rice, water, and land ownership and transfers.
“The public has complained a lot about two of the four ministries – Justice and Posts and Telecommunications. The Ministry of Justice should be revised, while Posts and Telecommunications has problems in managing telecommunication services in terms of effectiveness.
“The state must regulate all of these and intervene to ensure consumers’ rights are respected. We see that the effectiveness of this ministry is not acceptable to the people.
“The Ministry of Commerce [finds] a market for the people’s essential products and regulates merchandise lest there be a problem. The ministry keeps making its calls. But when citizens run into problems, the ministry does nothing at all,” he said.
He said security and public order issues should also be strengthened. The responsible ministry, he said, had some common issues relating to civil registry documents.
“The people don’t change their residences as often now. But the government keeps changing districts and communes, change this to that and then citizens must have new family books and new residence books processed. So, they spend money on these. And people keep complaining about transferring land ownership,” he said.
He said all of these required the government to carry out sweeping reforms for the ministries to be more effective rather than look good.