F’pec Bid for New Ministry Denied by PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen has re­fused to establish a new Ministry of Immigration as requested by Funcinpec and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh, government officials said on Sunday.

The Ministry of Interior—which currently controls immigration is­sues—undertook a study to examine the utility of creating a separate min­istry to deal with immigration issues, and after the results were known, Hun Sen found the idea un­necessary, government spokes­man Khieu Kan­harith said on Sunday.

“Through the study, [the In­terior Ministry found that] we should keep the same situation,” he said.

The proposed creation of an immigration ministry was part of the CPP-Funcinpec agreement that ended a yearlong deadlock following the 2003 elections, Khieu Kan­harith said. But at that time, the CPP had agreed to implement the plan only if Funcinpec agreed to relinquish its “co-minister” post at the Interior, leaving the ministry under a sole minister, he said.

“We have representatives from the parties, the co-ministers [of Interior]. We will keep the same in­frastructure by improving its efficiency,” Khieu Kanharith said, suggesting that the issue had been put to rest in 2003.

But Prince Ranariddh had indicated last week that the creation of the ministry was still in the works. On Dec 13, he told re­porters that he had formed a task force of senior Funcinpec par­ty members to discuss plans for it. Senior Funcinpec official, and former co-minister of interior, You Hoc­k­ry said Prince Rana­riddh had written to Hun Sen about the issue.

You Hockry said that an immigration ministry was badly needed, noting that the scope of Cam­bodia’s illegal immigration problem is beyond the Ministry of In­terior’s capacity to address.

“Ministry of Interior has done its best but [the ministry] hasn’t solved the issue very well,” he said. “We need a separate ministry that has more efficiency.”

The Sam Rainsy Party’s acting president, Kong Korm, said the CPP’s refusal of the Funcinpec request was demonstrative of the party’s lack of political power.

“Prince Norodom Ranariddh should not think that the CPP will do something according to his wishes,” Kong Korm said.“This clearly shows that Fun­cin­pec does [the will of] the CPP, but the CPP never follows Fun­cin­pec.”

Kong Korm also said that the new ministry would only have add­ed to Cambodia’s already bloated bureaucracy.

Opposition party member Eng Chhay Eang claimed that the CPP was also ensuring that there would be no crackdown on Viet­namese immigrants in the country. Prince Ranariddh had also implied that the formation of the new ministry would not affect Viet­namese immigrants.

When he announced plans for the ministry on Dec 13, he told reporters that it would “control im­migration not between Cambo­dia and Vietnam, but with Laos and Thailand.”

 

 

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