Funcinpec officials on Sunday called the prime minister’s dismissal of 17 royalist-affiliated government officials an act of political intimidation designed to weaken opposition to the CPP.
Hun Sen stripped the civil servants of their posts on Friday, claiming they failed to perform their duties following the July 27 election. He threatened to remove more officials if they, too, failed to do their jobs.
A Funcinpec statement issued Sunday said the dismissals were meant to intimidate Funcinpec officials into joining the CPP to help the ruling party secure the two-thirds of the National Assembly it needs to elect a prime minister of the new government.
“Hun Sen is trying to pressure Funcinpec party to join his party, but I think the Funcinpec party won’t join the CPP again, because Funcinpec won’t be afraid of Hun Sen’s intimidation,” Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said Sunday.
The 17 officials were not formally warned before getting sacked, which violates a civil service law that requires verbal and written warnings prior to a dismissal, according to the statement.
“The Hun Sen government doesn’t comply with the rule of law, so Funcinpec cannot support the prime minister,” the statement said.
It said the dismissals would aggravate the current political standoff and prevent a new coalition government from forming.
An adviser to the prime minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed a listing of the fired officials printed in the Rasmei Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) newspaper.
Four of the fired were undersecretaries of state in the national government: Noranarith Anandayath of the Council of Ministers, You Bunna of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Nouch Siratha of the Ministry of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs, and Mao Havannal of the Civil Aviation Secretariat.
One provincial governor, Choung Sieuvuth of Prey Veng, was fired, along with nine other provincial officials: Takeo First Deputy Governor Pall San; Kratie First Deputy Governor Vorn Chhunly; Svay Rieng Third Deputy Governor Sna Brayuth; Ang Chhoeun, governor of Prey Veng’s Kanhchriech district; Ouk Bunna, governor of Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district; Touch Sanura, governor of Battambang’s Ek Phnom district; Kep Pheng, governor of Battambang’s Sangke district; Chey Saren, governor of Kandal’s Khsach Kandal district; and Chay Salong, governor of Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district.
Three diplomats, advisers to the ambassadors to Thailand, France and the Philippines, were also dismissed.
Funcinpec officials on Sunday denied not fulfilling their duties.
“I have enough documents to prove that I have come to work,” said Noranarith Anandayath, a senior adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Ta Prohm Radio station director.
“I don’t regret losing my position. The CPP never offered value to me,” he said, noting that his office had no fax machine or refrigerator and was lined with old carpet.
Noranarith Anandayath said the CPP has discriminated against Funcinpec officials since the conception of the government. A chief administrator in his office, he said, hoarded office supplies.
“When I asked for papers and pens to work, they asked me which party I came from,” he recalled.
Funcinpec’s statement said the dismissals went against King Norodom Sihanouk, who helped broker a coalition government in 1998.
“If Hun Sen thinks the agreement in 1998 is ineffective, then the current coalition government is automatically null and void, as it was the King in 1998 that proposed a government plan confirming Hun Sen’s power,” the statement said.