SRP Asks Overseas Cambodians To Sponsor Communes

The SRP is appealing to Cambo­dians living abroad to sponsor administrative reform in the 28 communes which the party took control of in April’s commune council elections.

In a statement released to the press Tuesday, party leader Sam Rainsy said public services in the com­munes must be revamped in order to demonstrate SRP know-how. “To the eyes of the observing and scrutinizing population, the SRP-led communes represent political showcases for our party, displaying what we are capable of,” he said.

Members of the Cambodian Dia­spora should therefore donate funds toward making local government better, he said.

“For example, Belgium or Ger­many could help the commune of O’Russei in Kratie province,” he wrote. “[T]he Australian state of Victoria could help the commune of Phlov Touk in Kompong Chh­nang province.”

In addition to studying how to improve the delivery of public services in each commune, the SRP’s plan involves building $1,500 commune offices for 17 of the 28 communes which lack them, purchasing $500 motorbikes for the 22 commune chiefs who are without them and supplementing commune chiefs’ salaries by $25 per month.

National Assembly and CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin said his party would not support the plan as it politicized public services.

“If the SRP want to provide salaries and buy motorbikes for commune chiefs, they must give salaries and these things to all commune chiefs nationwide,” he said. “Our party has never done such things…. Our party is also under the government’s control as well.”

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that increasing use of “finance-oriented politics,” or putting public resources toward political gain, was regressive.

“I think the SRP follows the model in practice of the CPP. The CPP also uses this kind of appeal for support from the people,” he said.

“In the long term, this will create a severe problem of political patronage and they will affect the current effort for political reform.”

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mardi Seng said that, rather than name bridges and schools after the party’s leader, as the CPP does, his party was simply helping meet the public’s needs.

“In 2006, the National Assembly allotted $19 million to 1,621 communes,” he said, noting that in many communes this amounted to a little more than $1 per inhabitant per year. “That’s crazy,” he added.



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