Opposition Raps Assembly for Wood Order

An opposition parliamentarian on Monday criticized government plans to buy 3,361 cubic meters of precious wood for the construction of a new National Assembly building, saying lawmakers don’t know enough about the forest to get a good deal.

“This is a strange issue at the time when we talk about forestry laws,” said Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay. He suggested that a construction company would be in a better position to or­der the wood.

“Does a ministry or an institution have to buy wood and ce­ment and other construction materials, or shouldn’t we bid it out to one company who will take responsibility for construction?

“I don’t believe our parliament has enough time to collect the best quality wood,” he added.

The remarks came Monday as the Assembly discussed plans for its new building, to be constructed on a 2-hectare plot of land near Hun Sen Park and opposite the Bassac theater. The new As­sem­bly building will house two rooms for each lawmaker, a large meeting room that could be used for joint sessions with the Senate and a balcony that could host receptions of more than 300 people.

Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Assembly’s finance and banking commission and also chief of the committee overseeing construction of the new building, said ground will be broken at the new site in the near future.

Cheam Yeap said the existing headquarters is too small for the Assembly to function properly. He added that Son Chhay somehow learned about the order for 3,361 cubic meters of wood before it had even been placed or ap­proved, implying that Son Chhay somehow obtained the letter before it was made public.

He thanked Son Chhay, then said the lawmaker should have been working in the US last year so he could have learned about the Sept 11 terrorist attacks be­fore they took place to warn the US government about them.

Also on Monday, the Assembly closed early after lawmakers were unable to come to an agreement on Chapter 6 of the draft forestry law. The chapter deals with the management of forests not under the control of a company.

A special committee was created to come up with a compromise and will present its report today, lawmakers said.

 

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