Prime Minister Hun Sen has appointed 21 people as personal advisers and a further 34 people to the rank of personal assistant, according to a Royal Decree signed by King Norodom Sihamoni on Friday.
Mr. Hun Sen’s 55 new advisers and assistants for the fifth mandate of the National Assembly replace his previous batch, which numbered about 100 in the last government.
According to the decree, Tep Khunnal, who was a former secretary to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and the former governor of Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district, is now one of Mr. Hun Sen’s 21 new advisers.
It was not known on which subject Mr. Khunnal will advise the prime minister. Mr. Khunnal could not be contacted for comment.
Ros Chantrabot, a personal adviser to Mr. Hun Sen who was reappointed to his position in the new government, noted that Mr. Hun Sen had actually reduced the number of his personal advisers and assistants to cut back on government spending.
“Some people have criticized that too many advisers take too much money from the national budget,” Mr. Chantrabot said.
However, Mr. Chantrabot could not remember the exact number of advisers and assistants that Mr. Hun Sen had in his employ in the last mandate, though he estimated that it was less than 100.
“Now we are trying to help reduce the criticism and to reform,” he said, adding that he and the other 20 advisers do not get a salary in addition to their other government jobs.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition CNRP said the prime minister still had too many advisers compared to other world leaders.
“The prime minister has too many advisers and assistants and a very big Council of Ministers, in which there are more than 400 members,” Mr. Sovann said.
“There are more in Cambodia compared to the rest of the world,” he said. “Some [advisers] just read newspapers and have nothing else to do.”
Mr. Sovann added that he did not think that Mr. Hun Sen having fewer aides meant that the government was serious about reform.
“I have no trust in the government’s ability to reform because the members of the Council of Ministers are all the same people [as in the previous mandate],” he said.
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