104 Appointed As Personal Advisers To Premier

King Norodom Sihamoni has signed a royal decree appointing 104 people as personal advisers to Prime Minister Hun Sen with ranks equal to those of undersecretary of state, secretary of state and senior ministers, a CPP official said Friday.

Cheam Yeap, lawmaker and member of the CPP’s standing committee, said the mass appointment of advisers was normal following the formation of a new government.

“When the term is finished, personal advisers must be dissolved,” Cheam Yeap said. “So Samdech [Hun Sen] must appoint new advisers for the new five-year term,” he said, adding that he did not know how many advisors the prime minister had in the last government.

According to a copy of a royal decree dated Oct 4th and published Friday in Rasmei Kampuchea Daily newspaper, the premier’s advisers run the gamut of professions and experience, and include former commune and provincial officials, a pig farmer, TV news anchors and directors, military officials and a banker. The decree also announced that all previous personal advisers to Hun Sen lost their positions on Sept 25.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith referred all questions to the prime minister’s cabinet. Cabinet chief Ho Sothy could not be contacted for comment. Deputy Cabinet Chief Nget Borey declined to comment.

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua on Friday accused the government of wasting money on high-level advisers while the country was facing a food crisis.

Referring to the Asian Development Bank’s $35 million Emergency Food Assistance Project to Cambodia, which was launched on Wednesday, as well as the UN World Food Program’s having to halt free breakfasts to school children earlier this year, Mu Sochua said the country is facing a crisis.

“Who will pay the money? she asked, referring to the cost of maintaining 104 advisers. “It is the nation’s budget,” she added.

“The ADB just gave us $35 million for the food and the people are short of food,” Mu Sochua said. “People are facing shortages and the world is in chaos so we should save our budget.”

Cheam Yeap denied that the premier’s advisers were being paid a salary, adding that they were a necessity for the prime minister.

“It is the demand of Samdech [Hun Sen], they give opinions and they were chosen from all fields,” he said.

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