Top jobs in Laos’ government sector go mostly to applicants with the right “connections”, keeping better qualified candidates out of work and raising calls for transparency in hiring from governments, RFA has learned.
Documents leaked by Treasury Department sources on September 21 and circulated on social media show that six positions at the ministry were recently filled by applicants who had powerful supporters in high government posts but failed the exams to get theirs to get a job.
Tests for state employment should be conducted fairly, with hiring standards made clearer and more transparent, Lao sources told RFA in recent interviews.
“It is not right to only recruit the sons and daughters or cousins of powerful people,” a resident of southern Laos’ Champasak province told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
“The government should investigate whether these people passed their exams or not and what their level of education was when they took their exams,” he said. “They should only hire applicants who have the best qualifications and want to serve their country.”
If the sons and daughters of senior officials want to apply for government jobs, they should take and pass their exams like everyone else, and the public will then accept them without question, the source added.
The government’s hiring of people with powerful connections has long been a common practice in Laos, a source in the Laotian capital Vientiane said. “The Prime Minister has said it is not allowed, but in reality people know that this practice is still ongoing and cannot be stopped,” he said.
“It’s hard to get a government job in Laos if you don’t have the right connections,” agreed another Vientiane resident, saying his own brother and sister used this system to get work after school Find.
“You may have to wait two or three years to get a job, and then only after you’ve seen a senior official’s son or daughter get hired first. And sometimes you have to pay money to get a job,” he added.
Long waiting times, low salaries for jobs
Fewer Laotian graduates are now interested in finding state jobs – not only because of preferential hiring but because salaries are often higher in the private sector, said a source from the southern Laotian province of Savannakhet, who also declined to be named.
“This new generation doesn’t like working for the government because the salaries are too low. They cannot feed their families. They might even have to wait 2 or 3 years to find a job and then wait that long again to be self-sufficient,” he said.
Addressing an opening session of the 9thth At the Laos National Assembly on June 13, Laotian Prime Minister Phanh Kham Viphavanh urged an end to the hiring of unskilled civil servants based solely on family ties, calling the practice an obstacle to the country’s development.
Today’s Lao elites are the descendants of leaders of the Lao People’s Liberation Army, or Pathet Lao, a communist movement organized, equipped and led by the Vietnamese Communist Party that overthrew the Lao monarchy in 1975.
The Lao People’s Revolutionary Party is the only party the landlocked country of 7 million people has ever known.
Translated by Sidney Khotpanya for RFA Lao. Written in English by Richard Finney.