Assembly Will Now Have Three Spokespeople to ‘Balance Voices’

In an effort to “balance voices” in the National Assembly, there will now be three spokespeople for parliament, a neutral individual representing the institution and one person each to speak for the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP, according to a directive dated Monday.

Since early 2013, Chheang Vun, a feisty ruling party lawmaker, has acted as the National Assembly’s spokesman. But according to the directive from Assembly President Heng Samrin, the body’s secretary-general, Leng Peng Long, will now speak on its behalf.

“Firstly, the spokesman for the National Assembly is tasked with and obligated to inform the public about information related to the National Assembly,” the directive said. “Secondly, spokesmen for the parties’ lawmakers are tasked with and obligated to disseminate and clarify to the public about party policies and positions.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the party had yet to appoint its spokesman for the National Assembly, but said the position would likely be filled by Mr. Vun.

Mr. Eysan said the new directive would “balance voices among the majority and minority because previously His Excellency Chheang Vun was the spokesman, but he is from the CPP so it’s hard for him to speak for lawmakers from the other party.”

Spokesmen for the CNRP could not be reached.

Preap Kol, the executive director of Transparency International in Cambodia, said the plan was a positive step, but that its effectiveness depended on how each spokesperson uses his position to address sensitive social issues.

“Of course, the opposition spokesperson will try to speak about it, and sometimes in a way that is to some extent exaggerated to make it sound terrible, and this is beyond the truth,” he said.

“On the other side, the ruling party will try to defend and say there is no such thing, and that is to hide the truth.”

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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