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After Election Shortcomings, Hun Sen Orders Ministers Not to Be ‘Arrogant Bosses’

Prime Minister Hun Sen participates in the 66th anniversary celebration of the Cambodian People's Party in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 28, 2017. (Hean Socheata/ VOA Khmer)

Analysts said the comments were an attempt to gain support ahead of a general election next year.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered his cabinet not to act like “arrogant bosses” towards voters after the opposition saw significant gains at local elections earlier this month.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony on Tuesday, Hun Sen said that the role of government officials was to be “honest servants of the people” and “not some kind of arrogant bosses.”

“This is the main and first point that all ministers and officials should understand in their duties and keep in mind that they are servants rather than bosses of the people.”

He went on to suggest that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s losses at the commune elections on June 4, which saw the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party gain control of more than 400 communes and 43 percent of the popular vote, were due to dissatisfaction with officials.

“The citizens are the boss, and we are the servants,” he said. “Therefore we have to satisfy the boss.”

Analysts said the comments were an attempt to gain support ahead of a general election next year.

Meas Ny, a Phnom Penh-based analyst, said flawed leadership had led to the losses at the local elections.

“Good governance should also include good manners while serving citizens. Another sensitive issue is that officials should receive a living wage, because many officials are dissatisfied with the government as well.”

Yoeung Sotheara, a legal officer with election monitor Comfrel, said election losses often led to repositioning from political parties. “We acknowledge the hard work of the government. But there are still failures that undermine the government’s reputation,” he said.