Due to difficulty in reaching a quorum, the National Assembly was forced to wait 30 minutes before beginning its session Monday, and its next session will not convene until Thursday because the anticipated absence of several lawmakers today will prevent the Assembly from reaching the legally required number of participants.
Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Monday ordered CPP and Funcinpec lawmakers to examine lowering the traditional quorum required to formalize a full assembly session.
His proposal followed a delay in starting Monday’s proceedings, which were stalled from 8 am to 8:30 am as CPP and Funcinpec parliamentarians trickled into work before eventually reaching the required 87 of the Assembly’s 123 lawmakers.
Today’s Assembly was called off because a quorum could not be reached because several lawmakers are accompanying King Norodom Sihamoni on a trip to Kompong Thom province.
Opposition party lawmakers have boycotted the Assembly since the Feb 3 stripping of parliamentary immunity of party leader Sam Rainsy and lawmakers Cheam Channy and Chea Poch.
“I want both [CPP and Funcinpec] parties to examine and discuss the possibility of this change …. In other countries, we see the quorum level is set very low to allow their parliaments to function,” the prince told the Assembly.
The current quorum of seventh-tenths of Assembly members was adopted in 1998 to aid national reconciliation.
Prince Ranariddh said that some people have suggested a quorum of two-thirds—equal to 82 lawmakers—or fewer.
“I think an amount of people within the seventies is appropriate,” he told reporters after the Assembly.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay welcomed the prince’s call for quorum change on Monday.
But if the quorum is reduced, Son Chhay said, the Assembly votes required for the appointment of cabinet members and to censure the government should be decreased from two-thirds of lawmakers to 50 percent plus one.
In an attempt to solve the quorum problem, the new Assembly building will be equipped with sophisticated equipment that will allow lawmakers to watch televised parliamentary debates and participate from the comfort of their offices, Prince Ranariddh said.