The Interior Minister plans to meet with top officials from the country’s NGOs twice per year in an effort to address concerns raised by the groups and to gather recommendations for national development.
In a meeting with Ivo Sieber, Ambassador of Switzerland to Cambodia, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said he considers NGOs dynamic partners of the government that can help develop the country, according to ministry spokesman Phat Sophanith.
Mr Kheng noted during the meeting last week that his ministry is organising a way for government and NGO officials to meet twice a year.
Mr Kheng said the meetings will allow the NGO officials to air day to day challenges they face at national and sub-national levels, and also present their achievements, said Mr Sophanith.
“Groups can report to the ministry what they have achieved so far and what the ministry can do to help them,” said Mr Sophanith. “Once we meet face to face often, we can understand each other and will be able to tackle problems easily.”
“The Interior Minister knows that their presence is important and their input is also essential for the country’s development,” he added.
Thida Khus, executive director of SILAKA, said although cooperation between the government and civil society organisations was good, challenges and difficulties faced due to the law on associations and NGOs must be addressed.
“I support the Interior Minister to initiate meetings twice a year,” she noted. “The result of the meetings will definitely assist the legal practice of authorities and in return, the groups also have chances to raise their concerns and seek solutions.”
Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, said facilitating work carried out by civil society organisations is currently limited.
“Most often, there are erroneous links drawn between civil society organisations and political parties and opposition movements such as a colour revolution,” Mr Saroeun said.
According to Mr Saroeun, representatives of 170 associations and NGOs attended a government-sponsored forum at the Interior Ministry in June.
The group at that time requested the government to form a joint technical group, composed of relevant ministries and civil society organisations, to discuss and find ways to resolve problems related to the law on associations and NGOs.
Mr Kheng recently noted that 5,328 organisations and NGOs have registered with the ministry.