News / Asia

Cambodian Opposition Gets Parliamentary Commission Roles

FILE - Sam Rainsy, President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), speaks to media after a meeting at the National Assembly in central Phnom Penh.
FILE - Sam Rainsy, President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), speaks to media after a meeting at the National Assembly in central Phnom Penh.
Robert Carmichael

This week lawmakers from Cambodia’s opposition party are being voted onto 10 parliamentary commissions. This is a key part of a political deal in which the opposition finally agreed to take its 55 seats in parliament, ending its year-long boycott over alleged vote-rigging in the general election.

The proceedings at parliament are an important step on the road to political normality.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) boycotted parliament for months following the July 2013 general election in which it came close to unseating Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People's Party.

The CNRP has long claimed that the ruling party cheated its way to a narrow victory. The official result was the opposition won 55 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly, nearly double what it held before. The ruling party lost 22 seats, and now holds 68.

Cambodia’s political stalemate lasted nearly a year during which time leader Hun Sen levied a characteristically tough response: public gatherings were banned; several opposition MPs-elect and their supporters were locked up on charges of insurrection; and government thugs administered numerous beatings at protests.

But last month, the two main parties struck a deal for the opposition lawmakers to return in exchange for, among other things, a greater say in the makeup of the Election Commission. Since then, the mood has relaxed. Even Freedom Park, the public space in Phnom Penh that Hun Sen closed for months, has reopened. Both parties are now looking towards the next general election, which is due in 2018.

Opposition party chief whip Son Chhay says he is optimistic for the future.

“This time around it has changed so much. I think both parties cannot afford to do what they please any more - the public is very powerful. I think they are watching the two parties very closely since the two parties are very much equal in support in this country, they have to respond to the public more than they just do what they want. In that regard, the performance in the parliament would be so important, and the deal to allow the opposition to do their job properly - it will greatly help. I believe it’s a very good beginning,” said Chhay.

Voting by MPs to approve the new composition of parliament’s 10 committees started on Tuesday and should conclude Wednesday, added Chhay, who has himself been appointed vice-chair of the finance commission.

The two parties agreed that the CNRP would lead and control the agriculture commission as well as women’s affairs, education, human rights and anti-corruption. The ruling party will lead and control the other five commissions including finance, defense and justice.

Opposition members will also take six of the 13 positions on parliament’s standing committee, the body that sets the legislative agenda and oversees parliament’s internal rules.

Chhay said changing the internal rules - including giving commissions the power to summon ministers - combined with the opposition’s control of the commissions on agriculture, health and others should result in improved national institutions.

“Now we are holding all these committees. At least as [regards] the chairing of these committees, our members would be able to put more pressure on ministers in these areas to be more accountable to their work and hoping that they will serve the people better,” said Chhay.

On Tuesday, legislators also voted that CNRP Vice-President Kem Sokha become parliament’s first deputy president, making him the most senior opposition figure in the legislature.

Also Tuesday, the Phnom Penh Post reported that opposition leader Sam Rainsy would not take on any commission positions. Instead, the veteran politician and MP will advise some of the less-experienced legislators in his party.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs