PM Warns Ministers’ Wives About Political Meddling

Prime Minister Hun Sen warn­ed unnamed ministers Tuesday that they will be removed from their jobs if their wives continued to interfere in government work.

Hun Sen said that ministers’ wives, whom he did not name, are currently causing problems inside certain ministries and are even issuing orders to officials.

“[T]he ministers are only the husbands, not the wives. The wives cannot order anything,” Hun Sen said during a graduation ceremony at Chaktomuk theater in Phnom Penh. “If [the wives] do issue orders, I will remove the husbands, and then the wives cannot be ‘Her Excellency’ anymore,” he said.

Hun Sen described one particular problem within the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, though he did not refer to any party by name.

“According to the Ministry of Culture’s experience, a mistress of a leader could shake the ministry,” Hun Sen said, adding that the mistress had issued orders inside the ministry and had even threatened to remove government officials.

He added that the mistress problem at the Ministry of Culture had convinced him to amend the Con­stitution’s requirement of a two-thirds majority at the National Assembly for passing legislation to the current 50 percent-plus-one rule.

The amendment effectively re­duced the ruling party’s need to rely on its coalition with Funcinpec, which heads the Ministry of Cul­ture. Hun Sen has previously at­tack­ed former Funcinpec Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s mistress Ouk Phalla, accusing her of using her influence to wield authority over officials.

“It was important to amend the Constitution, otherwise those people would be under the mistress of a leader. Now they have liberated themselves,” Hun Sen added.

NRP spokesman Muth Chann­tha declined to comment on Hun Sen’s speech, but he agreed that ministries were being controlled by the family members of officials, and not by qualified civil servants.

“The ministries have nepotism and are partisan. Almost all of the ministries are being controlled by family members,” he said, adding that Hun Sen should continue to investigate the matter.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said he agreed with Hun Sen, adding that most of the corruption caused by ministers’ wives involved business deals and land concessions.

“The ministers’ wives are shareholders with companies and use their husbands’ power to receive contracts,” he said. “I strongly support the prime minister’s decision, but I want his words to be real and his measure to be [enforced] constantly.”

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