Lawmaker Demands Reason for Senate Hires

Senate Secretary-General Um Sarith has been asked to explain the hiring of dozens of staff and interns, which some senators claim did not receive proper ap­proval.

Since 2001, Um Sarith has hi­red 77 staff members without ap­proval from the Senate’s permanent committee, bringing the to­tal number of people employed by the secretariat to 297, opposition Senator Kong Koam said last week. Kong Koam sits on the permanent committee as chairman of the education, religion, culture and tourism commission.

Um Sarith, a CPP member, also hired 100 interns, 70 of whom receive a salary of $63 to $74 per month, Kong Koam added.

All Senate hires must be ap­proved by the permanent committee, comprised of the Senate president, two deputy presidents and the chairpersons of nine committees, deputy secretary-general Nhiek Chhay Eng said last week.

The secretariat may recruit interns and pay them up to

$58 per month for transportation costs, Nhiek Chhay Eng said.

“We lose funds because of im­proper staff recruitment and providing salaries without the knowledge of the permanent committee. This causes corruption and nepotism,” Kong Koam said.

Asked about the allegations March 22, Um Sarith denied any wrongdoing. He said he asked to meet Kong Koam to answer the charges, though the opposition senator has insisted Um Sarith address the committee by letter.

“I refused to meet him because I want him to tell the permanent committee, not just him and me,” Kong Koam said.

Um Sarith said he would send the letter by Tuesday.

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