New Labor Minister Voted in by National Assembly

The National Assembly voted secretly on Tuesday to formally re­place Funcinpec Minister of Labor Nhep Bunchin with CPP Labor Min­istry Secretary of State Vong Soth.

A vote of 82 lawmakers carried the appointment of Vong Soth, who is the son-in-law of National As­sembly President and ruling CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin, while seven votes were counted against the appointment and 11 lawmakers abstained.

Following the vote, Prime Min­ister Hun Sen told reporters that Nhep Bunchin is being investigated for his alleged role in the charging of fees to Cambodians signing up for work in Thailand and South Korea, and in the alleged illegal sending of laborers to Saudi Arabia.

“I want to tell you that I don’t care if one comes from CPP or Fun­cin­pec, or whatever party,” Hun Sen said. “We will do the same if any in­stitution would commit a mistake.”

He said that the Labor Ministry is ripe for corruption, controlling vo­cational training centers in­cluding a new one built with South Ko­rean grants totaling $30 million.

“I regret that I cannot uphold my in­tention to have all government mem­bers stay until the end of the man­date,” Hun Sen said. “I have to re­place the minister to strengthen good governance at the Ministry of La­bor and Voca­tional Training,” Hun Sen maintained.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said he abstained from voting because the government did not report officially on why it was removing Nhep Bunchin.

“If Nhep Bunchin is guilty, there should be an official letter from the government,” he said. “The re­shuffle was made to take away the po­sition from Funcinpec more than anything else.”

Nhep Bunchin was reportedly out­side the country and could not be reached for comment.

Funcinpec lawmaker Khieu San said he was satisfied with Vong Soth’s appointment.

“I am happy that the National As­sembly voted for a new minister,” he said.

“For Nhep Bunchin’s work, I don’t know what was going on because that was internal business,” the royalist lawmaker said.




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