Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has told officials to stop requesting that he grant permission for their children to work as police officers without them passing the required exam first. Sar Kheng said allowing them to do so was contrary to the government’s reform policies.
The minister made the remarks while presiding over a graduation ceremony in Battambang province on January 20.
He said the government is in the process of reforming the education system and if anyone wants to be a police officer they must undergo exams properly.
Sar Kheng pointed out that as the interior minister, he is only authorised to give approval for those who pass the exam and cannot give anyone a passing grade without them having truly earned it.
“That’s how it’s going to be from now on, no exceptions. I may like you and respect you as a coworker or even as a personal friend, but I cannot help you with this so please don’t ask [for favours].
“Doing favours like that amounts to corruption and is contrary to the reform policy. I can’t do it. That is the truth. Tell your child to go to school and study for the exam.
“In some cases these people never even took a single course in law enforcement or criminal justice, but they expect jobs as high-ranking police officials,” he said.
Sar Kheng recalled to the graduates that back in 1979 there was no need to take an exam. Then the ministry just gathered random people off the street to work as police officers.
He said in those days the ministry was happy with anyone who went to school at all even if it was only up to grade 3 because there were not any other options.
“And the fact of the matter was that most of the well-educated people had been killed by Pol Pot and his regime,” he said somberly.
The minister advised youths and students to study hard. He said parents must urge their children to go to school because an education is a lifelong gift.
“It’s now 2021, not 1981. There are many talented and qualified people who want to work as police officials.
“Perhaps your child is one of them – but they must sit for the exam and prove it first, just like everyone else,” he said.
Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey supported the move, but he called for a transparent process for entering the state employment framework.
“We should recruit civil servants into the state framework through a process that focuses on the ability, experience and knowledge of the candidates who take the exam in order to obtain qualified officials to work in government, enforce laws and provide public services,” he said.
Pisey added that the culture of nepotism was still standard practice for obtaining a promotion or higher rank, so they must put an end to people hiring their family members, even if they happen to be the son of the minister, and apply a fair recruitment policy for the civil service with full transparency and accountability.