Legislation setting the rules for hiring legislative branch civil servants was passed unanimously by the 87 lawmakers present in Friday morning’s National Assembly session.
The law’s passage was stalled for several days as Assembly members argued over which civil servants should retain their positions under the new legislation.
Lawmakers agreed that long-term employees, most hired by the Hun Sen government in the 1980s, should be kept on, but lawmakers argued over extending that privilege to “temporary” staffers hired a single five-year assignment—mostly by Funcinpec leaders.
A special committee of Assembly, Senate and Constitutional Council members amended the draft legislation to allow temporary staff to remain in place if they are approved by the heads of each of the three legislative bodies.
“Now we have a basic law to better hire civil servants,” Funcinpec lawmaker Ok Socheat said. Ok Socheat urged parliamentary staff to study the new law.
Several lawmakers failed to return from a break following the one-hour vote on the law, forcing the Assembly to adjourn without a quorum for the second time this week and angering Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was away for an hour greeting a visiting Belgian delegation.
Absences have plagued the Assembly for months and appear to be becoming more frequent as the political parties gear up for next year’s general elections.
The lack of quorum drew laughs from some of the lawmakers’ bodyguards, who joked out side the Assembly at the body’s “never-cured crisis” of a quorum shortage.
“Lawmakers should serve the nation better—they get very high state salaries,” one bodyguard said.
Before ending its session next month, the Assembly is expected to vote for a constitutional amendment allowing for the appointment—rather than the election—of Cambodia’s senators.
But debate on several pieces of important legislation, including a draft domestic violence law and draft anti-corruption law, have yet to appear on the Assembly’s schedule.