Ministry of Rural Development officials went ahead with a promotion ceremony Friday morning, despite criticism from some that four of the nominations were not authorized by the incoming minister and are therefore illegal.
Secretary of State Yim Chhai Ly presided over the ceremony that promoted 23 officials to different positions, including Cheam Nimol, technical deputy director general ; Ly Savuth, deputy director general for administration and finance; Yeun Sophal, director of the rural road department; and Yim Chung, director of the highland minority development department, among others.
Those four promotions, proposed by Director General Ly Pros, came under fire this week from ministry and parliamentary officials who said they had not been approved by the incoming minister Ly Thuch. National Assembly member Keo Remy said Thursday the promotions violated the statute for civil servants because they had not received approval.
But Yim Chhai Ly and Ly Pros said Friday that they stood by the promotions, which were authorized by the signature of Prime Minister Hun Sen on Aug 23.
“I don’t care if other people say this is illegal,” Yim Chhai Ly said after the ceremony. “The prime minister agrees [with the promotions].”
Yim Chhai Ly and Ly Pros have both been implicated in mismanagement of ministry funds and other unauthorized activities.
In June, 23 members of parliament called for the ouster of Ly Pros, who was promoted to his current position by Yim Chhai Ly, despite being caught bilking funds from Japanese and German donors for six road projects.
Earlier this week, Prak Leng, director of cabinet for outgoing minister Chhim Seakleng, accused Ly Pros of ordering ministry guards to detain him because he refused to hand over the stamp Ly Pros needed to seal the invitations to Friday’s ceremony.
An insider at the ministry said that the promotions had rankled many employees. The new deputies are two too many, the source said. And the promotion of the two directors went to people from other departments, over the heads of other qualified officials.
Ly Pros defended his proposals on Friday, saying he had hired competent individuals for the departments, which were formed by the ministry in July.
Yim Chung is a doctor with experience dealing with minority affairs matters, he said. “Those highland minorities, they need the doctor more than construction, because health education is very important there,” he said.
Ly Thuch and much of his staff did not attend the ceremony. He said Friday afternoon he was looking forward to working with the new staff and “building a team to do our best job for the country and the government.
“I fully respect the decision of the prime minister,” he said.