CNRP Attempts Assembly Manipulation

T. Mohan and Muny Sithyna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha (L) draws Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ire. (KT Photo: Chor Sokunthea)

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party  (CNRP) appears to have fired the first salvo against the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
Vice President Kem Sokha – who was elected first vice president of the National Assembly –  tested Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resolve when he said  he intends to censure sitting ministers in the National Assembly.
Mr. Sokha over the past weekend had told his supporters in the provinces that he would use mechanisms in parliament to remove ministers who are guilty of corruption.
Responding to this, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Kem Sokha’s statement was not in line with the spirit of the agreement reached between the CPP and the CNRP. If Sokha continued this trend, the Prime Minister said he would get enough votes to remove Sokha from his post in the National Assembly.
A Western diplomat, who speaks to the Khmer Times on condition of anonymity, said: “Both parties pay lip-service towards political détente that is being tested. The CNRP has deployed proxy attacks against the ruling party via demonstrations – to which it claims to have no control – but in reality supports.”
“The CNRP, it appears, is trying to use loopholes in the parliament’s internal regulations to censure ministers with the pipe dream of getting enough numbers to vote out ministers on various charges,” he said. “This attempt at fishing for CPP votes is not new.”
The official expressed surprise that the CNRP would fire the first salvo against the ruling government before the full house of the parliament has convened and started debating laws and legislation.”
Council of Ministers Spokesman Phay Siphan told the Khmer Times: “The National Assembly has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that there are checks and balances between the executive and the legislature.” 
“The CNRP is looking at provisions which are provided within the National Assembly to try and destabilize the government,” he said. “The motion of censure against the Royal Government must be submitted to the National Assembly by 30 of its members before this motion of censure can be examined.”
He continued that in the political sense only one  party would stand to benefit from this scenario of sanctioning ministers and the government. 
“Mr. Kem Sokha’s obligation is to make the National Assembly sessions proceed smoothly and not to try and to find loopholes to dissolve the National Assembly or overthrow the government. He is sitting in the First Vice President’s chair. This is an important position with great responsibilities,” said the government spokesman.
“The President and vice presidents of the National Assembly cannot have the agenda to ruin the parliament or the government. Rather, they have the moral and legal responsibility to ensure that  the parliament  moves forward and proceeds with quality and efficiency.” 
He added that Mr. Sokha should review his obligations as first vice president of the National Assembly. He needs to walk away from the election campaign, and focus on new challenge that involve resolving critical issues which the public faces, such as corruption and land disputes. 
“Democracy means that we have to come together and find solutions for the nation,” said Mr. Siphan. “It does not involve creating a division, or finding  loop-holes within the given parliamentary parameters to dissolve a legitimate government.”
He stressed the termination of the National Assembly and the government  before their terms expire is not the objective of a sustainable democracy, and is not the direction that Cambodia wants.
He dismissed Mr. Sokha’s statement as a mere publicity stunt. 
“Reforms are now taking place in government institutions in a systematic manner, based on the government policy,” he said. “Mr. Sokha is a part of the legislative power and, as such, should adopt the moral high ground and not lower himself to create sensationalism.” 
Chheang Vannarith, an academic and Asia Pacific analyst, said that the time has come for the ministers to respond to questions and concerns raised by the people through their representatives – the elected members of the National Assembly. 
“Representative democracy works well when there are effective checks and balances,” the Cambodian academic said  “The reform agenda adopted by the Royal Government can only be realized through an inclusive, participatory, and transparent decision making process.” 
“Expectations are high. The members of the National Assembly must really represent the interests and meet the demands of their constituents,” he said. “It is a transitional period in the history of the legislature in the Kingdom. From now on, we expect to see more efforts from the parliament members to demand better performances from those in executive positions.”
Mr. Um Sam An, a CNRP lawmaker from Siem Reap, commented to the Khmer Times: “I believe that some CPP members would support a move to sanction their fellow members if they did not like the particular member of government.”
“If we look closely, it appears that the CNRP will have a hard time to vote out any sitting minister. If CPP members of parliament do not support, will it be possible? No. It will not. However, it would be possible if CPP lawmakers do not like some of the ministers. then they could vote not to support them,” he said. 

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