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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid