Hun Sen Suspends Funcinpec Labor Minister

Prime Minister Hun Sen has suspended Funcinpec’s Minister of Labor Nhep Bunchin and ap­point­ed CPP secretary of state Vong Soth as acting minister, ac­cording to a suspension order ob­tained Friday.

Hun Sen did not state the reason for the move in his order, dat­ed May 11, but Information Min­is­ter and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said a committee will be established by the Min­istry of National Assembly and Senate Relations and Inspection to examine Nhep Bunchin’s ac­tivities in his ministerial position.

“There are a lot of problems,” Khieu Kanharith said. “We cannot say yet whether he is guilty or not,” he added, although he de­clined to say what Nhep Bunchin has been accused of.

Sok San, a Funcinpec secretary of state at the Labor Ministry, said officials from both the Inspection Ministry and the Ministry of Fi­nance have begun investigations at the Labor Ministry relating to Nhep Bunchin. “It is not a political matter,” Sok San said. “The inspection is under way.”

Sok San said that Nhep Bunchin is currently in the US attending the funeral of his mother-in-law, but declined further comment.

Prak Chantha, another Funcin­pec secretary of state at the labor ministry, also declined to comment.

Nhiek Bun Chhay, Funcinpec secretary-general, said he was not concerned about Nhep Bunchin’s removal. “It is normal. It is the work of the government,” he said. “I’m not worried. I think the government might inspect all ministries.”

Koul Panha, director of the NGO Committee for Free and Fair Elec­tions, said Funcinpec of­ficials are more vulnerable to be­ing removed from their jobs since the Consti­tution was amended in March to reduce the amount of law­makers required to form a gov­ernment. “Funcinpec officials probably need to be more careful than be­fore,” he said. “They are officials who can be easily suspended and removed.”

He said that he did not believe the CPP would subject its own ministers to such scrutiny relating to their professional conduct.

“The CPP ministers have never been inspected,” he said.



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