PM: ‘Culture of Cheating’ Led to F’pec Decline

The critical decline of the gov­ern­ment’s coalition partner Fun­cinpec was the result of the par­ty’s sale of government positions, Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen said in a speech Saturday.

He also called on political parties not to promise government jobs to voters ahead of the 2008 national election, as positions must be awarded through aptitude tests.

“Funcinpec sold positions. That is why Funcinpec collapsed,” Hun Sen said during a nationally broadcast ceremony for the opening of a Kampot province road.

“Some political parties have pro­mised to make people provincial and district governors,” he added. “This is a culture of cheating to re­ceive government positions.”

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay agreed Monday with the premier’s remarks, saying the October 2006 removal of Prince Norodom Ranariddh as Funcin­pec’s president had ended corrupt practices in the royalist party.

“We have reformed to eliminate corruption,” he said.

Muth Channtha, spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, which was formed following the prince’s ouster, denied Monday that Prince Ranariddh had auctioned off government jobs.

The prince’s removal was carried out on Hun Sen’s orders, Muth Chann­tha alleged, adding that in the April 2006 commune elections the NRP won 470 commune council seats to Funcinpec’s 275.

“You can make an empirical com­­parison [as to] which is the stron­ger party. Did the voters stay with Funcinpec or come along with the prince?” Muth Channtha asked.

“Prince Ranariddh never sold a government position,” he added.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Monday the premier’s vision of a Cambodian meritocracy where capable people earn their government positions through education and experience does not square with reality.

While political parties have the right to award positions in the government, the country’s civil servants must be independent, he said.

“The CPP controls all local auth­orities. It is a problem. The police, military and courts are under the government’s influence,” he added.

(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)

 

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