Phnom Penh Post, Written by Vong Sokheng and Sebastian Strangio
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
But opposition politicians, civil society predict more of the same
PRIME Minister Hun Sen has announced the official five-year plan for his government’s coming mandate, highlighting human rights, corruption and the rule of law as key concerns. But opposition spokesmen say the new CPP-dominated government, voted in by the National Assembly Thursday, will have little impact on the Kingdom’s endemic corruption.
“The government is determined to guarantee peace and political stability and improve the state of law in order to generate respect for human rights and democracy,” Hun Sen said at the first meeting of his newly-appointed cabinet Friday. He also promised to maintain economic growth and reduce poverty by one percent per year.
Hun Sen added that the behaviour of politicians and their families was vital to building trust in government services. “The powerful and rich have to be educated not to buy vehicles and motorbikes for their children to race in the streets,” he said, calling on civil servants to carry out their duties with “good morality”.
“If you commit a bad deed, you will receive a bad deed, like [Khmer Republic president] Lon Nol, whose stroke paralysed half his body,” he warned. “When you die, you cannot bring money [and] houses along with you.”
However, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Ke Sovannroth said the continuities between the old government and the new were more striking than the differences. “It is the fourth mandate of a new government, but the officials holding power are not new,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that they will work with a conscience to serve the nation.”
Mar Sophal, head of the monitoring unit at election watchdog Comfrel, agreed that the new government’s promises could not be taken at face value. “Every political announcement was good, but the individual officials have no real commitment to following up all these programs,” he said.