Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen’s ‘vision’ would see him bypass National Assembly, shrink cabinet

Hun Sen’s ‘vision’ would see him bypass National Assembly, shrink cabinet

Prime Minister Hun Sen (centre rear) presides over a cabinet meeting on Friday at the Peace Palace, where he called for constitutional changes to the status of secretaries of state.
Prime Minister Hun Sen (centre rear) presides over a cabinet meeting on Friday at the Peace Palace, where he called for constitutional changes to the status of secretaries of state. AKP

Hun Sen’s ‘vision’ would see him bypass National Assembly, shrink cabinet

During a cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a “vision” to shrink the country’s cabinet by excluding secretaries and undersecretaries of state from the body, and to be given the right to bypass the National Assembly by appointing them directly, according to a government spokesman yesterday. Both measures would require constitutional amendments.

Cambodia’s executive branch currently has nearly 240 members, including the prime minister, deputy prime ministers, senior ministers, ministers and secretaries of state.

Under the proposed changes, secretaries of state and undersecretaries of state would no longer be considered members of the cabinet and would be “handpicked” by the prime minister and appointed in a royal decree.

“[Prime Minister Hun Sen] feels that the government is too large because it includes secretaries of state and undersecretaries of state,” Siphan said. He wants the cabinet to be “exclusive for ministers only”.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, suggested reducing the size of government because it is “currently overstaffed at the top level”, which he said could benefit in being cut by half.

The proposed measure, however, would make little difference “except that they will be classified differently”, he said.

“After all they will still be paid under the government’s payroll.”

Paul Chambers, a Southeast Asia expert at Thailand’s Naresuan University, said in an email that the proposed changes had the potential to “allow the Prime Minister to appoint cronies for political favors, avoiding the more timely process of parliamentary approval despite the fact that the prime minister’s preferences are already guaranteed because his CPP dominates parliament”.

“The issue is that [the prime minister’s] appointments [of secretaries and undersecretaries of state] expedite his preferences,” he said.

In order for such a measure to go into effect, constitutional changes would need to be made, which requires a working group. According to a document from the Council of Ministers dated December 1, a 12-member working group was appointed to make constitutional amendments, though Siphan said he was unaware of the group.

Sak Setha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and a member of the new working group, said the team will study the Constitution to see if there are important changes to suggest to the government. He declined to say which specific amendments the group will be considering, saying it would “focus on the effectiveness of the institutions” enshrined in the Constitution.

“We already know that the Constitution bans affecting the monarchy and multiparty democratic systems, therefore the amendments aim to improve democracy and effectiveness of the institutions in the Constitution,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement