Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Comments at the Dissemination of the Sub-National Democratic Development Process under the Law on the Administrative Management of Capital, Provinces

… The centralized system of administration conducted so far has presented us with some major problems in the country's management. The organic law to be prepared in the time to come will have to look seriously into this matter. We will soon set up the sub-national administration in which the governing boards and councils are in accountability to the Royal Government. It requires therefore a change of attitudes primarily from the institutions that are used to top-down approach management system. In absence of such an approach and change, the organic law would not be applicable. It is indeed a good thing that Cambodia is such a small country that it is so obvious where there is a problem, if it were to be of the size of China, we would not be able to manage the country.

… There will soon be provincial and district councils who will help look into issues in their localities. I have mentioned in one of the workshop in the Preah Sihanouk province in 2005 that we have to be prepared for such a transfer of power from the central to sub-national levels … Like it or not we have the organic law in place and we will see to its implementation taking decentralization and de-concentration mediums into consideration … As the provincial governing board is deemed to be sub-national, the system would be consisting of the Council, which is to be elected, and the governing board - with governor and deputy governors - which is to be assigned. The provincial/district councils will be elected on the forthcoming May 17 by members of incumbent electoral commune councils - to be the first of its kind. The board will be the executive power to be designated by royal decrees and sub-decrees …

… The governing board to be assigned would be consisting of a governor and a number of deputy governors - between five and seven of them, according to the size of province. As for the Council, to who it is answering, primarily it has to be accountable to the constituency it represents and also to the Royal Government. Long ago there was this lawyer suggesting that the council should be accountable to the National Assembly … It is absolutely inapplicable. The council will have to be held accountable to the Royal Government. Budgets or laws proposed by the Council will have to be approved by the Royal Government. They could not be placed for the separate attention from the National Assembly, because their budgeting and planning will have to be incorporated into one national plan and budget.

… Therefore it reflects clearly the relationship between the governing board and the Council - as the governing board is the executive power in consultation with the Council, whereas the Council will also be answering to the Royal Government and not to the National Assembly. However it should be noted that the Council could suggest for changes of governors and officials which according to law, the process has to be proposed to the Ministry of Interior, and after a thorough investigation, approval from the Prime Minister would be obliged as to whether or not the suggestion should be implemented.

… I recommend that one slot is reserved for female candidate in the governing board and more for women to be elected in the Council … I would say there is a need for a female position at the level of Secretary of State in the Ministry of Interior. One female position should be applied in all provincial and district governing board, from there women are encouraged to take more active parts in local politics so that they could be promoted to the posts of deputy governors.

… In relations to national defense and security, two major problems need to be given attention - firstly, in foreign affairs area - I would remind you to be careful as none of you should be misguided to understand that with the power you are vested in, you are to exercise independently as an autonomous state at all. You may not be eligible to have your representation in other countries or to raise other national flag in yours at all. You are not to mess up with the national foreign policy at all. Take for instance you cannot say that you are to apply the policy of two Chinas at all - that will be a resolute warning ...

Secondly, in security and military matters, in general we have done a great job already according to the communal system in close cooperation with member of the commune council. We have Khans/Districts and the sub-military commands which are in close cooperation with the unified commands … There used to be a good cooperation between the armed forces in a respective provincial territory with the governing board of the province itself. I think we should bring it to a new level of cooperation and collaboration. This does not mean that the military power is transferred to the governing board so that you may use them as you wish. As I said earlier, the foreign affairs and military and security affairs are matters that can not be transferred for absolute and independent commands … They are the tools of the Royal Government but they are placed under your commands in any given operations … issues of promotion will be the Government's decision …

… Another point of concern is that after being elected the Council should not be a hindrance of power to the decision of the commune council. The commune council has direct mandate from the people and they are the ones to elect the Council at the provincial and district levels by non-universal suffrage. Therefore you should not in any circumstances abuse the power of those who have been directly elected and given you the mandate…■


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