The permanent committee of the National Assembly on Tuesday evening rejected amendments to the legislature’s internal rules put forward by the Sam Rainsy Party aimed at increasing the role of the opposition in the Assembly, a committee member said.
On Sept 24, the day the new Assembly first convened, Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters that he would have the Assembly’s permanent committee examine SRP demands to “recognize the role of the opposition.”
The opposition claimed the prime minister had guaranteed them that they would be given a larger role in the legislature. The SRP and Human Rights Party do not currently hold a single position in any of the Assembly’s nine commissions.
Cheam Yeap, CPP lawmaker and member of the Assembly’s permanent committee, said by telephone Wednesday that an amendment request calling for the opposition to receive the chairmanship of the finance and foreign affairs commissions, as well as the vice presidency of the Assembly, had been rejected.
“The National Assembly’s permanent commission has dismissed Sam Rainsy’s request to amend the Assembly’s internal regulations,” he said.
Cheam Yeap added that the opposition’s request was illegitimate because it was not backed by at least 33 lawmakers. The opposition currently has a total of 29 Assembly seats.
Reaction to the dismissal was mixed on the opposition side, with some expressing outrage and other cautious optimism.
SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said that she still believed the opposition and the CPP would come to mutual understanding to allow opposition voices to be heard in Parliament.
“There must be responsibility sharing,” she said.
HRP Vice President Keat Sokun, however, said the request dismissal by the permanent committee amounted to a betrayal by the CPP.
“We wanted a written statement from Prime Minister Hun Sen because we were afraid that they wouldn’t respect the promise,” he said. “Now it is shown that the CPP doesn’t respect that promise.”
Cheam Yeap said that no promise was broken, because Hun Sen merely said that the permanent committee would examine the opposition request, which it did.