Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sacked governors did not do their job, says Hun Sen

Sacked governors did not do their job, says Hun Sen

Sacked governors did not do their job, says Hun Sen

Seven Funcinpec provincial governors have been removed from their posts - some

of them for failing to stop illegal logging and land seizure, according to Prime

Minister Hun Sen, who says removals will continue as part of the government's

administrative reform.

Hun Sen, of the ruling Cambodian People's Party

(CPP), and Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay, Funcinpec secretary-general,

have both said governors have been removed from their posts because of

widespread land and forest grabbing, and continuing land disputes within their

jurisdictions.

Speaking at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and

Fishery's annual conference on March 29, Hun Sen said the governors' removal is

just one step in administrative reform.

He said governors have a duty to

co-ordinate and crack down on illegal logging and smuggling.

"It is more

difficult than fighting the Khmer Rouge," Hun Sen said of the struggle against

illegal land and forest grabbing, land disputes and smuggling. "I don't believe

that you don't know what is happening in your own work areas," he told the

dismissed governors in his speech. "The big problem is that you do not work, or

you are involved [in the illegal activities], that's why you dare not take

action..."

The government began removing Funcinpec officials from their

posts after the National Assembly amended the Constitution on March 2, reducing

the number of lawmakers required to form a government from two-thirds of the

Assembly to 50 percent plus one.

Immediately after the vote, Hun Sen

ordered a stop to power-sharing within the coalition government, beginning with

the removal of Nhiek Bun Chhay as Co-Minister of Defence, and Prince Norodom

Sirivudh as Co-Minister of Interior. Bun Chhay was later confirmed as a Deputy

Prime Minister, though Sirivudh lost his deputy prime minister's

post.

The following day Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh

resigned as President of the National Assembly.

The constitutional

requirement for a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly to form the

government was established in 1993. CPP and Funcinpec have co-existed in various

forms of coalition for most of the time since then.

After the formation

of a new government in 2004, power at the provincial and city levels was shared

between the two parties, with Funcinpec being allocated ten of the 24 municipal

and provincial governorships, and the remaining 14 going to the CPP.

Bun

Chhay told reporters on April 5 that the removal of Funcinpec governors and

deputy governors was part of the government's plan to improve its capacity to

work effectively.

"Land and forest issues are still a big problem and

these governors' work has been ineffective," Bun Chhay said.

When the

Post telephoned Bun Chhay to discuss his comments, he declined to confirm the

number of Funcinpec governors dismissed.

"I am sorry, and I am busy," Bun

Chhay said.

According to royal decrees signed by King Norodom Sihamoni

since March 23, the Funcipec governors removed from office have been Oddar

Meanchey governor Kuch Moly, replaced by Pech Sokhen (CPP); Mondulkiri governor

Thu Son, replaced by CPP Ministry of Interior official Lay Sokha; Siem Reap

governor Sim Son, replaced by CPP Takeo governor Sou Phirin; Banteay Meanchey

governor Heng Chantha, replaced by his CPP deputy An Sum; Kandal governor Lao

Sunpa replaced by CPP deputy Khim Bou; Stung Treng governor Khem Seila replaced

by Loy Sophath, a CPP Anti-drug official of MoI; and Kep governor Chan Sam An

replaced by CPP Tramkok district governor (Takeo province) Has Sareth. Phnom

Penh Municipality Deputy Governor Mom Bunneang has been removed and not yet

replaced. The new Takeo governor is the CPP's Srei Ban.

A USAID report

on Cambodia's forest resources says the current legal uncertainty has encouraged

land grabbing by the elite in Cambodian society as well as encroachment on

forest land by the landless.

The report said that forest and wildlife

resources are being lost steadily through legal and illegal harvesting. It said

the next few years will be a pivotal period for improving natural resource

governance as a means to reduce conflict, fight poverty, and avoid human rights

abuses.

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