CNRP chief whip Son Chhay has written to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An be summoned to the National Assembly to answer questions over a recent directive regarding corruption probes and the government’s airport contracts with French company Vinci.
The Council of Ministers, headed by Mr. An, issued a directive on June 5 ordering low-level government officials to report to their superiors before cooperating with lawmakers investigating corruption claims. Mr. Chhay argues the directive violates Article 96 of the Constitution, which outlines the right of lawmakers to request information from government institutions.
In his letter dated Friday, which has yet to be endorsed by National Assembly President Heng Samrin, Mr. Chhay requests that Mr. An appear before parliament during a plenary session on July 2.
“I would like Samdech Prime Minister to authorize His Excellency Sok An to give oral clarification at the National Assembly on a number of issues such as: Firstly, explain the purpose and meaning of a Council of Ministers letter dated June 5, 2015; secondly, to explain airport management contracts between the royal government and Vinci company,” the letter says.
Speaking by telephone on Friday, Mr. Chhay said that he hoped Mr. Samrin would approve the summons of Mr. An, one of the CPP government’s senior-most ministers.
“Normally the speaker has no power to reject my request, but in the past there is some problems with the speaker [Mr. Samrin], sometimes the way I ask, he wants to protect the minister, so he won’t forward the letter to the prime minister,” Mr. Chhay said. “I am hoping he will not block this one.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Mr. Chhay’s request would not be considered unless the National Assembly president endorsed it first.
“[W]e don’t consider it official. So based on that, I don’t think we will react to them,” Mr. Siphan said. “It has to be signed by the president.”
Mr. Siphan said the directive regarding corruption probes by parliamentarians was simply meant to ensure that government officials provide accurate reports.
“We want to make sure they give the right information,” he said. “It’s not because of fear or anything else, we just want official information.”