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)