Prince Norodom Ranariddh opened the new session of the National Assembly Tuesday, praising his fellow lawmakers for excellent work on land-grab issues.
“We have so far solved a lot of land dispute issues for people, and will continue” to work out disputes step by step, he told a crowd of lawmakers and Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Prince Ranariddh said the Assembly’s human rights commission has solved 218 land dispute cases and is working on 46 others.
It was news to Som Sokhy, a 30-year-old farmer from Kompong Speu who has been camped in a public park across from the National Assembly for several weeks.
Som Sokhy and several dozen other protesters have come to Phnom Penh to ask the National Assembly for help. They say land has been stolen in various provinces by government officials, soldiers and other powerful people.
So far, Som Sokhy said, the assembly “has no efficient assistance to help solve our land grab complaints.”
The protesters, learning that the assembly was reconvening after a two-month break, tried to catch lawmakers’ attention by unfurling four large banners, one of which read, “To Rob Peoples’ Land is To Kill Them.”
But, they said, nobody stopped to talk to them, including Hun Sen, though he passed by them twice.
In other action, the assembly announced replacements for three departing members, two of whom are going on to other jobs and one of whom is ill.
Chan Sarun (CPP) of Takeo, who becomes undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture, will be replaced by Prak Thuch. Long Sarin (Fun) of Kompong Cham, appointed governor of Oddar Meanchey, will be replaced by Khim Chamroeun. Kreal Kuon of Pursat (Fun), who is ill, will be replaced by Say Mongkol.
Lawmakers also tried to appoint four candidates to secretary of state positions in the ministries of Interior, Religion and Cult Affairs, Inspection and Parliamentary Relations, and Justice.
But only 80 of the assembly’s 122 members voted in favor, two votes short of the two-thirds required majority.
The nominees include Ang Vong Vatthana (CPP), Sar Kheng’s senior adviser and chief of cabinet, to replace Ly Vuoch Leng at Justice; Khov Meng Heang to replace Than Sina at Interior; Khay Khun Heng to take Khov Meng Heang’s former spot at Inspection; and In Visa Yum to replace the late Srey Vann Phchang at Religion.
Prince Ranariddh, noting that only 107 members were present, said the nominations will be considered again, when more members are in attendance.