… As I have mentioned in the prepared text the reform process has this time affected all of the national institutions, which requires us all and not as a separate individual to be prepared. The management that we are actually experiencing is not a good one and I may say if we were to continue this method of managing, we would not stand firm in case of war or social turmoil. Take for instance the possible return of the Pol Pot’s regime in the past would be real if we were to have this kind of management system. Why?
… Currently the local authority has not been a unified one but all acting like an office chief of the Ministry of Interior but not a representative of the Royal Government at the provincial/municipal level anymore. In face of this I would suggest that we make effort to reinstate an administration of unity at the provincial/municipal levels and specialized offices so that they all could become a strong mechanism commanded by the Governors of the province or municipality.
… I may recall what we did under the State of Cambodia, though I do not claim that all we did then were right. If we were to be disunited, we would not be able to counter the Polpotists’ attacks. What is the unity that I am talking about? It is the unity that all heads of the provincial services were indeed members of the Provincial People’s Revolutionary Committee, because of which all of them were held accountable. In those days, to restore a twenty-meter long bridge, no one would alert me as they do today. As of these days, a hole in the road of the size of buffalo, they asked for help from the Prime Minister.
… Take for instance, Hok Lundy and Yuth Puthang, both were Governors of Svay Rieng and Prey Veng, respectively. They commanded their staff in the battlefields along the Thai-Cambodian border, and their soldiers were heads of services of the provincial cultural committees, finance committees, etc. who were designated with so and so responsibilities. It is still a good point that the Governors still have commanding authority over the army, the police, and the military police. But they could not administer development in the province. All specialized services reported to their senior lines of command, which are the Ministries concerned, leaving the provincial authority in the state of irrelevance.
… When things turned out to be disorganized or trouble, the provincial head was the one to take charge. It is hard indeed to leave the responsibility on the provincial heads as they do not have the authority to administer what is going on in their provinces. It should be noted that some services, having received funding for requested projects from the Ministry concerned, did not bother to get the projects implemented and no one is to take the blame but the provincial heads. Take for example the issue of illegal checkpoints. It is incomplete to just reprimand the provincial heads because some were those belonging to other institutions concerned, for example those of the department of forestry. Because of such a system that everyone could evade responsibility easily from one’s own, the provincial head no longer pays attention to combating smuggling as whatever they may collect from the operation would go into the coffer of the Ministry of Finance. This creates indifference and negligence in the system. It is therefore necessary to reinforce the horizontal line of command, rather than just the vertical line of command.
… Studying the Constitution, I see that it would not be inapplicable to establish a chain of command in which provincial service head has the duty before both the provincial Governor and the Minister who is the service’s principal financial officer. Thus I would suggest that any appointment to be made has to have a green light from the provincial Governor or the case would not be considered. This should be seen as a move to insert political administration into the system, or, to make it easier to understand, as the way the Prime Minister chooses so and so as Ministers and the National Assembly will approve them.
… I foresee a kind of assembly at the provincial level, which I would call it a council of some kind to be put in place by a general election. I have placed this responsibility on HE Sar Kheng to conduct further study and I am ready to join in opening a seminar to launch this prospective administration development. So in the future the Governors of the province would be appointed by the Royal Government, and the provincial assemblies would have the power to require them to report on the provincial administration and development management agendas and projections. The assembly of this kind also has the authority to participate in adopting the provincial/municipal budget as well. Having done this I foresee that in the future the Governor will administer security, social and economic development in the province under the supervision of the provincial assembly.
… As of now the Royal Government has delegated decision making power to the provincial level to have a final say on any investment project at US$ 2 million and below. All concerned government institutions’ services at the provincial level have been advised to exercise direct participation. Take for example, an investment project in the agricultural sector, which require a land size of about 1000 hectares with an approximate investment capital of about two million US dollars. Without the delegation of power from the central level, the provincial services could not participate in the process with the municipal or provincial authorities and would require the attention at the central level of the concerned Ministry. If the provincial authority could not decide anything, matter will be brought up to the Minister again. If the matter continue to experience no breakthrough, the Prime Minister would have to intervene, still.
… Now the Royal Government has increased the number of deputy Governors to all the municipalities and provinces, whereas some has up to nine or ten deputy governors. The fact is that this is done to share responsibility and help each other in fulfilling the process of reforms that are facing us. Some people in the civil society commented on the increase as a waste of budget. Aside from daily administration, provinces have the protocol duties as well, where sometimes a province happens to have two official events – one presided by the Senate President and another could be by the Head of the National Assembly.
… To administer a province, for me, is a matter of competence and requires an amazing skills and experiences. I do not have an experience as the head of the province. Each individual has a unique potential, some to be provincial governors and some to be ministers, but not vice versa. I may resolve that being a Governor of a province would be less difficult than being a Governor at the district level. Sometimes the district governor acts as a judge to solve the conflict cases. This is also a matter of concern as we currently do not have the office of justice at the provincial level. I would recommend that all of you discuss with HE Minister of Justice Angvong Vadhana on the possibility that the Ministry of Justice delegates certain justice power to the provincial heads so as a discussion between the Governors and the prosecutors could help resolve problems at the provincial level.