Assembly Spokesman Says Gov’t May Consider Nepotism Law

National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun said Tuesday that the government could consider creating specific laws prohibiting nepotism in the public sector if anyone is able to show that similar laws exist in another country.

Following a complaint lodged by CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay last month, Mr. Vun, a CPP lawmaker, said on Saturday that a high-ranking administrator in the National Assembly could not be investigated for allegedly securing jobs in parliament for many of his family members because there are no existing laws prohibiting nepotism.

CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun speaks to members of the media at his office at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun speaks to members of the media at his office at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Speaking to about 20 reporters at an informal press briefing in his office at the National Assembly on Tuesday, Mr. Vun said he was nevertheless open to the idea of creating such a law if a precedent was found in another country.

“I look into the world and I see that there is no such law. If it does exist, please bring it to me because I want to use it as a model,” Mr. Vun said. “I didn’t say I won’t do it. I want to read this law, so that I can propose this law. If you ask about my thoughts, I want this law for future use.”

Mr. Chhay, the opposition’s chief whip, has been leading a campaign to investigate how at least seven family members of Mith Karen, the National Assembly’s deputy secretary-general, have ended up with positions in parliament.

Mr. Karen has acknowledged that members of his family, including his daughter and son-in-law, work as directors of parliamentary departments—including finance and auditing—but insists they got their jobs through merit.

Mr. Chhay, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has said all of Mr. Karen’s relatives should be immediately fired pending an investigation, which he says the country’s Anti-Corruption Law should allow.

At his press briefing, Mr. Vun said he would also speak to National Assembly President Heng Samrin about the need to reduce the number of people employed by the Assembly.

Mr. Vun said that 1,340 people are currently employed in administrative positions in the parliament building, a figure he acknowledged was incredibly high.

“I will request that Samdech President [Mr. Samrin] find a means to solve this problem. We know that all these public officials can’t fully provide good public service,” he said.

About 200 staff members were terminated during the last mandate, Mr. Vun said, as part of his own personal campaign to rid the parliament of extraneous workers.

He said that the Assembly could institute a series of buy-outs to fish out those among the 1,340 who were merely drawing salaries without taking their work seriously.

“My idea is that we select the people who have poor qualifications and then request them to leave the parliament on their own, and arrange a financial package for them,” he said.

“If they volunteer to leave, we will tell them that you get this amount of money in principle. Let them go with $2,000 or $3,000 to run any business they want,” he said.

“If it’s possible, I believe some officials will leave.”

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