Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC staff, once contractors, rolled into gov't

NEC staff, once contractors, rolled into gov't

NEC president Sik Bun Hok speaks during a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh.
NEC president Sik Bun Hok speaks during a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

NEC staff, once contractors, rolled into gov't

The leadership and staff of the National Election Committee – the independent body tasked with adjudicating electoral irregularities and disputes – ceased to be independent contractors yesterday as they were folded into the government ranks.

NEC director Sik Bun Hok told the body’s 362 employees yesterday that even though they are now technically civil servants, they must still maintain strict autonomy.

“Being contract officials is not stable, but now you are stable since you’ve become government officials,” he said.

According to a royal decree formalising the move, long-serving NEC secretary general Tep Nytha – who has been repeatedly accused of pro-government bias – now holds a rank equivalent to secretary of state.

The reform of the NEC was a major component of the agreement between the ruling and opposition parties in the wake of the disputed 2013 elections, though the process has been criticised as overly partisan.

NEC spokesman and designated neutral member Hang Puthea said that incorporating the body into the government would actually make it more neutral, as officials would not have to worry about having their contracts cancelled over politically unpopular decisions.

However, Koul Panha, of election watchdog Comfrel, said the move could “affect the autonomy of the NEC” and disincentivise improvements.

“Civil servants are more static. They’ll be like, ‘I’m a civil servant. It’s a contract for life.’”

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to