Defectors to CPP To Be Undersecretaries of State

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Wednesday that a number of officials that defected earlier this year from the SRP and Funcinpec will immediately be given positions as undersecretaries of state.

Hun Sen maintained that his hurried appointments were a way of demonstrating that the ruling CPP is not merely using the defectors for short-term political gain.

“The CPP has no culture to squeeze out juice and then throw the waste away. For example, the former Khmer Rouge defectors who integrated, they were given positions,” Hun Sen said, adding that he had already sought approval for the appointments from King Norodom Sihamoni.

According to the prime minister the undersecretary of state positions will be created in 11 of the government’s 25 ministries—including Defense and Interior—as well as the Council of Ministers.

The new bevy of officials will keep their jobs in the next mandate should the CPP win the July election, he added.

Hun Sen said that a few un­named defectors would not be given positions at present because they will receive senior posts after the election that require National Assembly approval.

He also declared that former Funcinpec ministers that defected to the CPP—such as Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi and Minister of Religion Khun Haing—will receive posts in the next government.

Party defectors who do not receive government positions will receive appointments as advisers to the state, he added.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay descried the appointments as an illegal move aimed at promoting the CPP ahead of the interests of the country.

“The National Assembly has already approved the [2008] national budget already, the government cannot spend more money,” he said.

“It is an illegal action…. The government does not belong to any of the political parties—the government belongs to the nation. The prime minister must not only serve his party,” he added.

CPP National Assembly First Vice President Nguon Nhel downplayed Son Chhay’s concerns, saying that the prime minister is well within his rights to create new positions for party defectors.

If Hun Sen creates such posts, he must already know that there is enough money in the treasury to pay their salaries, Nguon Nhel said.

“There is sufficient work for [the new appointees] to do…. They cannot just sit around and wait for their salary,” he said.

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