October 31, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Manet has refuted claims by unnamed critics that the government’s development policy only serves the ruling party and a powerful few, describing such criticism as “narrow-minded”.
Speaking to nearly 20,000 factory workers in Phnom Penh on October 28, Manet said his group consists of more than 17 million people, with the majority having voted for his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to lead the country.
“For me, my policies are for all 17 million of my colleagues. Those who are in power are the people themselves, because the CPP was chosen by the people to lead the country,” he added.
Manet highlighted that the CPP and the government welcome people of all affiliations and political tendencies to join them in protecting the peace and encouraging development. He said he only serves the people, who hold the true power, explaining that the CPP attracted over 82 per cent of the vote, equivalent to more than 6.4 million Cambodians, in the 2023 general election.
“You accuse me of serving my group, the rich and the powerful. This reflects your narrow-minded analysis and it is due to this mindset that your party loses every time,” he said without naming names.
“When someone joins the government, you accuse them of treason and suggest that the government doesn’t give opportunities to well-educated people. But when anyone well-educated joins the government, you call them a betrayer. It is this short-sighted mindset that stops your team from growing,” he said.
Manet announced that he is expanding public health policy to include 7.4 million people who benefit from their equity cards, as well as through the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
He also touched on the vocational training that is planned for 1.5 million youth from impoverished or vulnerable households, who will receive not only training but also cash support . This policy will also cover women workers.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, opined that Manet raised a reasonable argument, as the prime minister must serve each of the 17 million citizens of the Kingdom, no whether they are his supporters or back the opposition.
He said those who criticised Manet on the government’s policies must lack an understanding of its work, as the CPP’s policies were the ones that they advocated for in the lead-up to the July 23 national election.
“It is normal that the winning party will select people to serve the government, normally from within the ranks of the party. What is important for the new government to do is solve any problems that may be facing the people. They must serve the whole population, according to their actual needs, and without discrimination,” he added.
At the local level, Peou urged the transparent recruitment of all civil servants to avoid similar criticisms.