Hun Sen Blasts Ministers, Threatens Reshuffle

With the ruling CPP in the midst of an effort to improve public services and implement key re­forms ahead of next year’s commune elections, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday ordered two of his cabinet ministers to im­prove their work or risk being sacked.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen said he would consider reshuffling his cab­inet soon and begin issuing public rank­ings of ministries’ performance. He singled out Public Works Minister Tram Iv Tek for a par­ticularly blistering critique.

“I don’t know how to say this, but the Ministry of Public Works is a ministry that is much slower than other ministries,” he said. “Very slow. This is the truth.”

Mr. Hun Sen cited a recent cab­inet meeting during which Mr. Iv Tek apparently sparred with Phnom Penh municipal governor Pa Socheatvong over who was re­sponsible for maintaining the city’s roads.

“This ministry does not work. To blame each other about city roads at a Council of Ministers meet­ing, which roads Public Works is re­sponsible for and which roads City Hall is responsible for? Pa Socheat­vong: Don’t care about the Minis-try of Public Works. Please do it yourself.”

Although Mr. Hun Sen re­served his harshest words for Mr. Iv Tek, he said Agriculture Mini­ster Ouk Rabun was nearly as bad.

“Today, when I was having lunch, I ranked the ministries from A, B, C to F, and F is the Ministry of Public Works, as well as Ouk Ra­bun. The Ministry of Agriculture reaches rank F—very slow,” he said.

“I think I will announce the min­istries’ rankings—number 1, 2 and 3…. If I don’t announce it in this way, it won’t affect their work,” he added.

After the CPP nearly lost the 2013 national election to an insurgent CNRP, which ran on a platform promising extensive institutional reform, Mr. Hun Sen gave a six-hour speech exhorting his top officials to prepare for in­creased pub­lic scrutiny, using the me­ta­phor of a person taking a bath.

“First, you need to use a mirror to look at yourself. Second, you have to take a bath to clean your body. Third, you have to scrub your body while bathing if it is plagued by dirty things. Fourth, you have to heal your disease,” he said at the time.

On Thursday, he said that some min­isters had not yet managed to heal themselves.

“[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.

“I am wondering whether I should reshuffle the cabinet this year or not. I am wondering be­cause if we keep too many like this, it will make me die.”

“Friends among friends are dan­gerous to me,” he said, using a Khmer expression that refers to cronyism.

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Clarification: In a previous version of this article, the grade given to the ministries of public works and agriculture by Prime Minister Hun Sen was written as S, due to the prime minister’s unclear pronunciation of the letter F.

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