Sar Kheng tells officials to stay neutral

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
An SUV used by civil servants is seen on the road in Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

The Interior Ministry has instructed all civil servants nationwide not to use their working hours to serve any political parties during the election campaign which starts on Saturday.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Monday sent letter to all provincial governors asking them to advise officials to stay neutral while on duty, especially during the election campaign in which all officials had to abide by the Law on Elections.

“The civil servants must not use their working hours to conduct activities for any political parties,” Mr Kheng said. “Civil servants are prohibited from using money, materials, venues and transportation belonging to the state during election campaigns by any political parties.”

Election campaigns are due to begin on Saturday and last until July 27 and all 20 political parties contesting the election are expected to tout their platforms to attract voters.

Defence Minister Tea Banh has also advised all military units to refrain from using their state vehicles and military uniforms to partake in the election campaigns, Defence Ministry spokesman General Chhum Sucheat said in a Facebook post.

“[Tea Banh] has instructed all officials not to use vehicles, uniforms and military materials to serve election campaigns for any political parties,” Gen Sucheat said.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of election watchdog Nicfec, said it was importance that civil servants heed the call in order to ensure a free and fair election.

“It is positive that the ministries have reminded their officials not to use state property during the election campaigns,” Mr Kuntheamy said. “But I do not know if the orders will be effective because they do not have ways to monitor if officials follow them.”

Mr Kuntheamy added that he has observed commune officials breaking the law during past elections, a claim confirmed by the National Election Committee.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said that any officials caught violating the Law on Elections will be fined.

“We have fined commune officials caught committing such mistakes in previous elections, and we hope that all officials will obey the law this time around in order to ensure a free and fair election,” Mr Puthea said.

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