Promotion of Officials’ Children in Government Defended

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Ith Sarath, chief of joint staff at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, at a military event on May 4. (Chief of Joint Staff Facebook page)
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State officials defended the promotion of ruling-party scions in government, though they denied knowledge of a leaked letter appearing to show the military’s chief of staff seeking Phnom Penh and Siem Reap deputy governor positions for his son and a nephew.

Speaking of ruling-party officials’ children, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak on Wednesday said that requesting their promotions was “normal.”

“The request for promotion is the right of the one who requested,” he said. “If we do not promote our group, do we promote the opposition group?”

Thong Solimo, spokesman for the military’s general command, said: “In a necessary case, a leader can request directly and it is OK.”

The leaked letter, signed in early April by military chief of staff Ith Sarath, asks Sarath’s son Rath Dararath — who currently works in the chief of staff office — be made Phnom Penh deputy governor, and Sarath’s nephew Nop Longdy be made Siem Reap deputy governor. Both are one-star generals.

The letter was purportedly received by Interior Minister Sar Kheng on April 7, and was to be studied by ministry secretary of state Sak Setha.

Setha said on Wednesday that he had yet to receive the letter two months later.

“I have not seen it, and I do not know about it, and there have been many people asking me about this,” he said.

A man who picked up a phone number for Sarath said he was not Sarath, and the chief of staff was busy. “I am sorry, he is in a meeting,” the man said.

Sopheak, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said he didn’t know about Sarath’s specific case. “But the request is normal, and it is his right to request it. But whether to promote or not — that is the right of the ministry.”

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