There will be no cabinet reshuffle until after July’s national election, but the government will soon amend the constitution to allow future secretary of states to be appointed by Royal decree without first seeking approval from the National Assembly.
Speaking during a Cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government must double its efforts on reform.
“I am quite proud of this year’s achievements. We’ve had many challenges and at the same time we’ve made quite remarkable success through reforms,” he said.
“We must change our work attitude and make our work more valuable. We must keep up our efforts endlessly.”
He added there will be a constitutional amendment on the article concerning the appointment of the secretary of state rank, which is currently appointed only after the approval of the National Assembly.
“The amended article in the constitution will be that a secretary of state will be appointed by Royal decree without seeking approval from the legislative body,” he added.
“That is much easier for when we have to appoint a secretary of state to fit any vacant post in the future.”
He said the article would be amended soon but only be effective starting with the next government after the 2018 election.
“The task of secretary of state will remain the same as today,” he said.
In April, 70 lawmakers among 107 attending the National Assembly session, approved 26 cabinet changes, including the retirement of Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, who first served in the government in the 1960s.
Also long-serving Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong was replaced by Telecommunications Minister Prak Sokhonn and Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol was transferred back to his old transportation portfolio.
The Assembly also approved the appointment of Transport Minister Tram Iv Tek as minister of posts and telecommunications and former Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Pan Sorasak as Mr. Chanthol’s replacement.
Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim, who was replaced by former Minister of Rural Development Chea Sophara, was revealed as a new member of the Constitutional Council of Cambodia.
In addition to eight ministerial changes in the cabinet reshuffle, former National Election Committee Chairman Im Suosdey was appointed as a “senior minister in charge of special missions.”
Prominent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said any coalition government whose composition and political programme genuinely meets the people’s aspiration should be welcomed.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said the government has to reshuffle because it wants the government’s leadership team to be most effective, but it will not reshuffle now because the election is near.
“There is nothing strange about the government appointing a secretary of state without passing the National Assembly,” he said.
“The government themselves know already that nobody wants to reject what the government requests.”
Mr Hun Sen, speaking at the Interior Ministry’s annual meeting in March 2016, said some ministers were simply too slow, and recalled instructions he delivered in 2013 for ministers to rid themselves of “disease.”
“We gave them several years to take a bath, look in the mirror and clean their bodies. Now is the time to treat the disease,” he said.