Despite being suggested by Prime Minister Hun Sen, lawmakers from both the ruling CPP and the SRP voiced opposition Monday to longer working hours.
Speaking at the Government-Private Sector Forum on Sept 4, Hun Sen said that the new National Assembly building has given lawmakers a bigger and better environment in which to do their work. Consequently, they should do more of it, he said.
“The National Assembly owes a lot of laws to the government, and I have a concern that those laws will not be passed on time and will be delayed until the next government,” Hun Sen said. “In other countries the National Assembly continues meeting into the nighttime,” he added.
National Assembly Deputy President Nguon Nhel said by telephone Monday that lawmakers would be unable to attend sessions in the afternoon because they had other work to do.
“We cannot do it because the [Assembly’s] nine commission chairmen have to work following the morning session,” he said, adding that the commission chairmen decide which draft laws will reach the Assembly floor during their afternoon meetings.
Nguon Nhel said that he had discussed the matter with Hun Sen, and the prime minister agreed that lawmakers should not attend two sessions in a single day.
“After the explanation, Samdech [Hun Sen] agreed” that sessions should only be held in the morning, he said.
SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said that he supported Nguon Nhel’s call for no afternoon sessions because it’s the only time he has to meet with his constituents.
“I don’t like working in an air conditioned room—we should be working with our constituencies,” he said.
Mar Sophal, chief monitor for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that he agreed with the prime minister’s initial call for the country’s lawmakers to work longer hours.
“The National Assembly should extend work time until night, at least until 8 pm,” he said. “There are many draft laws that still have not been approved.”
(Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)