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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs