Interior Minister Sar Kheng has announced that newly-elected councillors with secondary roles in the government will need to drop them in order to focus on fulfilling their duties as elected representatives.
The announcement follows a meeting on Friday led by Mr Kheng to discuss the management structure of city and district administrations.
Mr Kheng on Monday said in a statement that the Interior Ministry has acknowledged that some newly-elected councillors have been given adviser and assistant positions either before or after they were elected.
Mr Kheng added that municipal, provincial, city and district council members with secondary roles before they were candidates will have those roles automatically eliminated.
“At this point, they will only remain as […] council members,” he said. “They will only receive a salary from the council position.”
Mr Kheng noted that any council member who were given secondary roles after the election will have to choose which role they would like to keep.
“It’s because they were elected by voters as public officials and were appointed [secondary roles] afterwards,” he said.
Mr Kheng said municipal and provincial governors must discuss the matter with the councillors and carry out his instructions.
Prak Sam Oeun, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s general administration department, yesterday said the decision to scrap secondary positions was made in order to avoid criticism and ensure that councillors serve the people.
“A lot of elected councillors are now holding positions as advisers and assistants,” Mr Sam Oeun said. “This is no longer allowed.”
“In order for councillors to serve and build trust with people, they must be neutral and committed to their role [as councillors],” he added.
Mr Sam Oeun noted that Mr Kheng’s statement has been forwarded to governors across the Kingdom and that they have 30 days to respond.
Kampong Speu Governor Vy Samnang supports the decision.
“I believe that councillors who hold two positions at a time won’t be able to fully implement their roles effectively,” Mr Samnang said. “I was told that in my province, there is no councillor that holds a secondary position. But, I will check on it again before I report to the ministry.”
Pa Socheatevong, chairman of the Phnom Penh Municipal Council and adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, yesterday said he will comply with Mr Kheng’s instruction.
“I acknowledge the difference between officials who were elected and appointed,” Mr Socheatevong said. “They have different roles. I will follow and respect the decision.”
Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, yesterday said councillors should focus on providing quality public service, first and foremost.
“They should also coordinate with stakeholders to maximise resources in order to provide quality service and effectively respond to the needs of citizens,” Mr Saroeun said. “I hope councillors in this mandate serve people first and political parties later.”