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Focus on public duties, not party work: Sar Kheng

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Officials greet Sar Kheng as he arrives at the Victory Day celebration. Fresh News

Interior Minister Sar Kheng is aming to find a way to stop CPP officials in the government from doing party work when carrying out public duties.

Speaking during a ceremony to mark the 41th anniversary of the January 7 Victory Day in Battambang province yesterday, Mr Kheng said he is now working on the problem to ensure transparency and effectiveness in delivering public services.

“Now we have a CPP working group and a government working group. I am now studying how to separate the duties and responsibilities of these two groups,” he said. “CPP working groups have been carrying out work in both capacities and we must now make things clear about this.”

Mr Kheng said the separation would ensure public work is carried out properly and state budgets are not used to serve party interests.

He also said other political parties frequently criticised CPP officials for using government money to serve people while informing them that services are funded by the party.

“We must know that the government working group plays an important role in providing support to the sub-national administrations, including in all provincial, district, and commune levels in order to deliver public services to people,” Mr Kheng said.

However, he said all civil servants share the same duties in gathering concerns from people and solve them in a timely manner. He said CPP officials who are civil servants should focus on political duties only during weekends.

“One important thing is that do not promise solutions if you are going to ignore people’s concerns. If you can’t solve it, report it to the higher working group for solutions,” Mr Kheng said.

Cambodian Youth Party president Pich Sros yesterday hailed the move, saying that a clear separation in roles of CPP members who are civil servants will guarantee transparent public work.

“The separation is considered as part of a reform of public powers and it aims to empower people who are members of other political parties,” he said.

Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, yesterday said the reform in the Ministry of Civil Servants will play a key role in bringing about the separation of duties, noting that it should follow the statute of civil servants at both national and sub national levels.

“A clear recruitment process with clear job descriptions, key performance indicators and performance management and appraisals system must be in place,” he said. “Citizens should be empowered to provide feedback to the civil servants on their performance.”

Mr Saroeun called on Mr Kheng to strengthen the implementation of anti-corruption law, especially issues related to political corruption and conflicts of interest.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay yesterday said Mr Kheng can realise his idea by enacting a law prohibiting all public servants, including members of the police force, the armed forces and the judiciary, from joining a political party and engaging in political activities.

“A law that distinguishes clearly the duties of party men and public servants is a critical step towards ensuring public services are provided by apolitical civil servants, apolitical army officers, apolitical police officers and an apolitical judiciary,” he said. “This measure should be supported by meritocracy in the recruitment and promotion of public servants. It should further be supported by an independent control and evaluation mechanism or oversight body commonly known as ombudsman.”

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