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More Government Appointments Rankle Opposition

The National Assembly is expected to approve 11 new high-level government appointments on Thursday, nine of which are additional posts that opponents say are a waste of money.

The nine new appointments are for members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, with positions mainly for secretaries of state, but members of the opposition say they are unnecessary in an ever-expanding Cabinet.

“We don’t need to increase more pay of Cabinet members while Cambodians are facing poverty and the global economic crisis,” said Yim Sovann, a lawmaker and spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party. “It is not necessary to appoint more appointees as Cabinet members. In this situation, it increases the bureaucracy, corruption and expenditures. The Sam Rainsy Party will not support the increase of the Cabinet members.”

Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said the appointments may be a way to help maintain stability within the government, but they would cost more money.

“We are very concerned about the shortage of national resources for supplying or supporting the increase of government members larger and larger,” he said.

The Cabinet has grown significantly since 1993, when there were 55 ministers and secretaries of state, including the prime minister, deputy prime ministers and other senior ministers. By 2008, there were 258, following increases in each five-year mandate of the government.

Thursday’s new appointments, which are in addition to increases already made in 2008, will bring the total to 269.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the appointments would lead to more effective government in the long term and so would not cost the government more money overall.

The appointments include: Chheang Yanara, an adviser who will become “delegate minister” to Prime Minister Hun Sen; Yuth Phuthong, former Koh Kong governor, to secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture; Bun Sambo, personal interpreter of Hun Sen, to secretary of state at the Council of Ministers; and others.

Thursday’s vote is expected to reshuffle two Funcinpec officials: Tum Sambo as secretary of state to the Ministry of Defense; and Tan Vutha, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.