The single-party National Assembly sat for the second day of its third plenary session Wednesday, discussing two of eight chapters of the draft law on the Organization and Functioning of the Courts.
The CPP-only parliament—minus 55 boycotting opposition CNRP lawmakers-elect—convened to discuss the first of three laws on judicial reform, but spent much of the day questioning the credibility of its critics.
Huor Sry, one of 65 CPP lawmakers present for the meeting, called out civil society groups and media, who he claimed are out of line in questioning the legitimacy of the National Assembly.
“There are some people saying without shame that this law should not be brought for discussion because another party has not entered the Assembly,” Mr. Sry said. “I would say to them…why don’t you ask the people who stay outside the Assembly?”
Mr. Sry then took aim at legal experts quoted in the media, saying that senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap is best qualified to answer questions relating to the law.
“I have observed some of the legal analysts that [the media] calls as prominent legal analysts,” Mr. Sry said. “Why don’t they mention His Excellency Cheam Yeap, the oldest lawmaker in the Assembly? Why call on someone who has never made a law?”
Chheang Vun, a CPP lawmaker and spokesman for the Assembly, also rebuked civil society groups for their continued calls for the CPP government to include outside voices in its discussion of the long-awaited judicial reform laws.
“These draft laws have been discussed for 10 years already,” Mr. Vun said. “When we don’t do it, they asked why don’t we do it. And when we do it, they asked why are we so fast.”
Mr. Vun then came out in defense of Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, saying his increased role in managing court budgets, as outlined in the draft law, did not give undue powers to the executive branch, as critics have claimed.
“In France, the justice minister not only organizes the budget, but also expenses,” he said. “In this context, can we accuse the French legal system of being bad?”
Before the session closed, CPP lawmaker Suos Yara asked why the hiring of full-time experts had not been included in the new law for specialized cases that may come before the court.
“We are wondering why the members of the court don’t have commerce advisers and labor advisers at the courts…to find justice” in relevant cases, Mr. Yara asked.
Mr. Vong Vathana, the justice minister, said that in cases where specific expertise was required, those experts would be called into court.
The National Assembly session resumes Thursday.
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