SRP, Funcinpec Seek Hiring Limits, Transparency in Civic Law

SRP and Funcinpec lawmakers demanded Monday that the proposed “organic law,” which would redefine the civic map of Cambodia, be amended to cut the number of provincial civil servants, increase the number of elected offices and explicitly ban corruption.

Speaking during Monday’s National Assembly debate on the law, SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang argued that the law’s provision for three to seven governors and deputy governors per province, as well as three to five per district and city, would prove burdensome.

Large provinces should be limited to four governors and deputies; small provinces, cities and municipalities to three, he said.

“We are a small country, but we have a big cabinet,” Eng Chhay Eang said. He reiterated SRP demands that new district and provincial councilors be chosen by general election rather than by commune councilors.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay also asked the Assembly to impose rules that would make the hiring and firing of provincial governors and their deputies, who are appointed by the Interior Ministry, more transparent.

“We must end partisanship immediately,” he said.

Funcinpec lawmaker Soth Sothon asked the Assembly to include a provision in the new law that would punish government officials for corruption.

The draft law calls for governors and their deputies to be removed if they are unable to perform their jobs, do not work well, have health problems or violate professional ethical standards.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said an explicit ban on corruption in the law is unnecessary because such a sanction is enshrined elsewhere in the legal code.

“We do not state that those who commit corruption will be removed, but there are many articles that state it” elsewhere, he said during the debate.

He added that the number of governors and deputy governors in a given administrative zone depends on the size of the area and should remain flexible.

Appointments of governors and deputy governors are made based on the experience and qualifications of the candidates, he added.

The National Assembly has approved six of the law’s eight chapters.

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