National Assembly Acting President Heng Samrin on Monday rejected a request by opposition lawmaker Son Chhay to establish a committee made up of government and opposition officials to review the controversial supplemental border agreement with Vietnam.
Son Chhay called for the creation of such a committee in a letter dated Friday and sent to Heng Samrin through the Assembly secretariat.
“The government already has such authorities and committees,” said Heng Samrin, who is also honorary president of the ruling CPP.
“Let the government work on it. The Assembly also has a commission. They work on it every day,” he said.
Son Chhay said he had not yet received an official response from Heng Samrin about his proposed committee, which he estimated would need $3 million to fund trips to investigate border areas.
Copies of his letter were also sent to King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other lawmakers.
Son Chhay said the opposition has been excluded from authorities examining the border issue.
“Border affairs need unified national approval,” he said.
Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Saphann, who is also chairman of the Home Affairs, National Defense, Investigation and Anti-Corruption Commission—one of three commissions responsible for reviewing the supplemental treaty—said all lawmakers should have the right to be heard on the topic, but doubted that the proposed multi-party committee would ever come to be.
“I do not oppose the idea to form such a special committee,” he said. “I am afraid [Son Chhay] cannot get the votes to create it.”
Monh Saphann added that the treaty could be sent for a vote at a full session of the Assembly before this month’s Water Festival, which starts Nov 15, if the three commissions can agree on the details and language of the treaty.
Son Chhay said he was not worried about the “urgent” stamp on the treaty, noting that documents stamped “urgent” often sit in the Assembly for as long as six months before coming to a vote.