Assembly, Senate To Pick Anti-Graft Representatives

The National As­sembly and the Senate will each elect a representative for the Na­tion­al Council for Anticorruption to­day, choosing from a group of candidates largely aligned with the ruling CPP.

Heading the list of candidates for the Assembly’s position on the council—the body tasked to oversee the workings of the investigative Anti­corruption Unit—is former Con­sti­tutional Council member Top Sam.

Mr Sam is joined among the As­sembly’s applicants by Interior Min­istry law counselor Pich Kim Eng, National Audit Authority Deputy Secretary-General Ung Silan and Suon Sarun, the deputy governor of Battambang province’s Ek Phnom district.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said he believed Mr Sam would be chosen for the role.

“His Excellency Top Sam may be chosen because he has had a lot of experience,” Mr Yeap said, pointing to Mr Sam’s record as a member of the Constitutional Council and as a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce.

Senators will choose one council member from 11 applicants in today’s vote, according to a Senate statement that was released last night.

Those elected as the Assembly and Senate’s representatives on the council will join newly appointed Anticorruption Unit Chairman Om Yentieng, formerly head of the anticorruption unit at the Council of Min­isters, whose position guarantees him a seat, as the first publicly announced member of the council.

The votes in the Assembly and Se­n­ate will mark the only two op­portunities where the opposition parties will have their voice heard on who is selected on the council.

Under the Anticorruption Law, promulgated by King Norodom Si­hamoni in March, members of the Assembly and Senate are required to vote for their representative. The remaining eight council members will be chosen by the King, the government, the National Audit Au­thor­ity, the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection, the Supreme Council of Magistracy and the government’s Cambodian Human Rights Com­mit­tee, of which Mr Yentieng is the president. Mr Yentieng is also an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Yim Sovann, SRP lawmaker and spokesman for the opposition, said yesterday that his party had not put forward any council applicants for the Assembly to consider because it did not want to be aligned with what is likely to be a CPP-dominated anticorruption body.

“We could not do anything even if we got on the council,” Mr So­vann said by telephone, adding that the SRP would attend today’s As­sembly session but would not vote for any of the nominees.

“The SRP does not support any of the nominees because we do not support the law,” he said.

“During the Assembly’s debate on the law, we suggested an amendment to change the way that the council is elected—to try and make it more independent. But we were not listened to,” Mr Sovann added.

Thun Saray, president of local human rights group Adhoc, said that he did not blame the SRP for not putting forward a nominee for the council.

“Even if one or two members out of the 11 on the council were se­­lected from the opposition, I do not see how this would make the council more independent,” Mr Saray said, adding that the public needed to have more input into how their anticorruption institution is being operated.

“Civil society advocated for an independent commission to be set up to deal with corruption,” Mr Saray said.

“The important thing is we need to advocate for the participation of the public and civil society organizations” in the anti-corruption council, he said.

While no public announcements have been made about the selection of the remaining eight members of the council, one of the candidates up for selection by the Assembly, Mr Silan, said yesterday that Auditor General Uth Chhorn will be the National Audit Authority’s representative.

“[Mr] Chhorn was automatically chosen as a member [of the council] so I applied to the National Assembly to be chosen,” Mr Silan said.

According to the Anticorruption Law, members of the council will serve for a five-year term that can be renewed.

Anticorruption Unit Chairman Mr Yentieng said yesterday that he did not know when the remaining members of the council would be named officially.

“It’s me, and there are 10 more to be chosen,” he said.

 

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