Prime Minister Hun Sen has officially defined the roles of the government’s eight deputy prime ministers and several senior ministers.
According to the written decision, which was signed by Hun Sen Sept 9 and printed in the latest edition of the Royal Gazette, the five CPP deputy prime ministers have been handed far more areas of responsibility than their three Funcinpec colleagues.
Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, for example, has been put in charge of decentralization; national security and other police work; and will coordinate the ministries of land management, planning, environment and justice. He will also serve as acting prime minister in the absence of Hun Sen.
Cabinet Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An has been given by far the most duties according to the decision, being charged to assist the prime minister with: administrative reform, the Khmer Rouge tribunal, de-mining, landmine victims, information technology and answering queries from the National Assembly. He is also to assist with the management of the ministries of industry, posts and telecommunications, information, education and labor; as well as the civil aviation and public secretariats; and the national petroleum and land dispute authorities.
By contrast, the Funcinpec deputy prime ministers were given next to nothing to do.
Funcinpec President and Deputy Prime Minister Keo Puth Rasmey, for instance, was charged only with coordinating the ministries of women’s affairs and culture.
Rural Development Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Lu Laysreng, who is also first deputy president of Funcinpec, was given no extra tasks, being placed in charge of coordinating only his own ministry.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said on Sept 28 that the duties handed down amounted to redundant job-titles that only exist on paper.
“It is redundant, 90 percent of the decisions are made by Hun Sen and Sok An,” he said.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said it was essential to give the deputy prime ministers a measure of control over ministries that already have ministers so that the two could confer on pertinent issues.
Ministers must speak with the appropriate deputy prime minister before they bring their concerns to Hun Sen, he said.
“The ministers can discuss with the deputy prime minister, and on small issues the deputy prime minister can make the decision,” he added.
Funcinpec Secretary-General and Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay, who has been charged with helping coordinate the military police, the border committee, and the ministries of public works and health, insisted that his assignments were not only important, but kept him perpetually busy.
Nhiek Bun Chhay said that he is occupied reviewing bridge and hospital construction projects to report on their progress to the prime minister, and also works to improve Cambodia’s defenses.
“To check on problems with security issues, to instruct the programs to improve security…this is not redundant,” he said.