So Oeur, 70, had no job description and no assignments—but he got his $350 paycheck each month as promised.
Like 103 others, So Oeur was, until recently, an adviser to resigning National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranaridd—and one of many who have cashed in on their affiliations with government officials, earning salaries for posts that require little or no work.
“I feel protected due to my affiliation with the prince. But importantly, I could get some salary to support my historic writing,” he said. “There is no job description.”
Prince Ranariddh is not the only official with a large entourage of advisers: Prime Minister Hun Sen had 56 advisors as of last November. But Interior Minister Sar Kheng has five or fewer advisers, the ministry spokesman said. And Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay said that he has only three paid advisers and a secretary.
Chum Kosal, a Cambodian Television Network commentator appointed to advise the prime minister late last year, said he receives only occasional assignments from the government.
“There is no specific job assignment about what I need to do for Samdech Prime Minister, but, in general, I am in charge of information affairs. But I have to do my work for the honor [Hun Sen] offered me,” Chum Kosal said.
“I don’t ‘advise’ him,” he added, “but just help update him on what is happening.”
Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said that purchasing adviser posts is a tradition, and some use the position for personal advantage.
“I don’t think all advisers have work, but they use the name adviser—to ask permission for their businesses, to export and import, and in land cases,” he said.