Newly elected opposition councilors in Kampong Thom have been discriminated against and given no uniforms or places to sit, so they “just wander around” commune halls, the Candlelight Party said.
The party has alleged that ruling-party administrations are obstructing the councilors from doing their jobs, though an Interior Ministry spokesman said the issues were exaggerated and claimed Candlelight members were merely complaining about a lack of air conditioning.
The Candlelight Party’s Kampong Thom provincial working group issued a letter on Thursday saying councilors in 44 communes had yet to receive office space or official uniforms. The letter called on the provincial governor to intervene and immediately provide offices.
Sun Chanthy, head of the provincial party working group, said on Friday that ruling-party councilors were having no problems; it was only those from the opposition being hampered.
“If they go to the commune, they have no place to sit. … They just wander around and do nothing,” Chanthy said. “That is why we asked for intervention from the provincial governor, urging the local administration to give work [to elected councilors] according to their position as the people voted.”
Kampong Thom provincial governor Nguon Ratanak said he had not received the Candlelight letter as of Friday, but it seemed the newly elected councilors didn’t understand their work.
“We will look at the law and intervene according to the law,” Ratanak said. “If it is law to require the superiors to help and handle it, then we can handle it.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said it was the first he had heard of the issue, but suspected the opposition was stirring up political controversy.
“Sometimes, they are just looking for an office with air conditioning, and there is none. If it’s just tables and chairs, I believe there is no shortage,” Sopheak said. “All officials from the state of Cambodia at times worked under a tree since 1979. … They just came looking for proper chairs and to wear neckties. It might be impossible [for the ministry] to handle.”
Korn Savang, a coordinator at elections NGO Comfrel, cautioned that no elected official should be barred from fulfilling their role.