Lawmakers from the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties refused Thursday to participate in an extraordinary meeting of the National Assembly called to vote on the addition of 10 new high-ranking government appointees, party representatives said, claiming the vote was designed to prop up an already bloated government.
The special meeting of the Na-tional Assembly was called to support Ke Kim Yan as deputy prime minister, Serei Kosal as senior minister in charge of special missions, and eight new secretaries of state. Two of the secretaries of state will replace members lost to death or health problems; the remaining six are new positions.
“The government should not add more…members because it has too many members already; this could add to corruption,” SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann said by telephone Thursday.
HRP President Kem Sokha said his party’s lawmakers were too busy to participate in the Assembly meeting that he believed only served to make the government needlessly bigger.
“We knew that the vote would only serve to support the government. It was not important to us, and we will return to work when the National Assembly reconvenes in April,” he said Thursday by phone.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said in front of the Assembly meeting that the additional members were necessary to strengthen “government policy.”
“These 10 candidates have strong experience applicable to the positions that the government has provided for them,” he added.
National Assembly President Heng Samrin said at the meeting Thursday that the prime minister had the legal right to “control and respond to all activities of government members, and the right to fire and replace them.”
Government spokesman and information minister Khieu Kanharith said that it was up to the opposition parties to decide whether or not they will attend extraordinary sessions of the Assembly, though they are being paid to attend to such work.
“It is their right to abstain, but they were absent during this meeting even though they receive payments to govern,” he said.