Lacking quorum—partly because of a Sam Rainsy Party boycott—the National Assembly ended its scheduled session early on Monday and suspended further meetings for two weeks.
Only 79 of the Assembly’s 123 parliamentarians showed up for Monday’s session, eight short of quorum, Assembly officials said.
In addition to the 24 boycotting opposition lawmakers, 20 CPP and Funcinpec parliamentarians were also absent Monday, Assembly Deputy Secretary-General Chan Ven said.
Five CPP lawmakers had taken a leave of absence to go to the provinces with First Vice-President of the Assembly Heng Samrin, four others went to “go blessing” with Senate President Chea Sim, and two more lawmakers went to the US, Chan Ven said.
He did not say where the other parliamentarians were. The next Assembly session will be held March 11, Chan Ven said.
As a result of Monday’s absences, the Assembly was forced to put on hold its debate on a draft statistics law, introduced by the Ministry of Planning, which would allow government officials to obtain data from institutions and private companies.
“The National Assembly did not reach enough quorum today on the statistics law, so we postponed the meeting until [later in] March,” Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Saphann said.
Since the Assembly returned to work this year on Feb 3, it has convened about 10 times, or about two to three times a week, according to the Center for Social Development’s records.
The Sam Rainsy Party’s 24 lawmakers have not participated in any of those meetings since the controversial Feb 3 session, when the Assembly voted to strip three opposition lawmakers—including party leader Sam Rainsy—of parliamentary immunity.
Failing to hold a full session, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and several other lawmakers, including senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, took a tour of the new Assembly building near the NagaCorp casino after the brief Assembly meeting convened.
Though Chan Ven and Monh Saphann downplayed the opposition lawmakers’ boycott, Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Son Chhay said the postponed sessions could have been averted.
“A quicker political compromise should be made so the Sam Rainsy Party can come back, otherwise the quorum problem will continue,” Son Chhay said Monday.