Opposition Official Sidelined

Opposition member Chim Rithysak, second deputy chief of a Phnom Penh commune, has been an elected official for nine months—but he has never been given any work to do, he says.

“I haven’t been asked to write anything or sign any documents since I took my place in the commune office,” the Sam Rainsy Party official from Tuol Tumpong 2 commune, Chamkar Mon district, said on Monday. “I’m just sitting here.”

His claims—which are denied by the commune’s CPP chief—typify the opposition’s contention that since the Feb 3 commune elections, decentralization has proceeded only on paper.

The majority of commune chiefs are the same people who served that position as CPP ap­pointees before the election. Opposition party commune officials are routinely passed over as these chiefs simply conduct business as usual, issuing orders to local authorities without consulting anyone, opposition leader Sam Rainsy has said.

Youn Sophon is the CPP chief of Tuol Tumpong 2. He agrees that Chim Rithysak currently has nothing to do but blames Chim Rithysak himself.

“I gave him several tasks to do, but he has no ability,” the chief said. “So I took the work back and did it myself.”

Youn Sophon claims Chim Rithysak brings too much disruptive partisanism to commune affairs, inhibiting the administrative process, and spends little time in the office.

Chim Rithysak claims Youn Sophon is violating the procedures set out for the newly elected local governments, which are supposed to be examples of grass­roots democracy.

“I was selected by the people to work for the people, but Youn Sophon doesn’t give me any work,” he said. “What he is doing is trying to conceal his corruption. If he allowed me to help [with commune administration], I would know how much income the commune receives.”

Chim Rithysak said he had brought up the problem with the chief. “When we had a meeting,  he said I would be given work to do in 2003,” Chim Rithysak said.


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