National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun on Tuesday defended the prohibition of a press conference on border issues planned by opposition CNRP lawmakers by saying the parliament is “not a fish market.”
CNRP lawmakers Mao Monyvann and Um Sam An on Friday canceled a press conference to report their findings from recent investigations into alleged Vietnamese border incursions after National Assembly President Heng Samrin denied them access to the parliament’s media hall, citing their failure to seek his permission before going to the border.
Mr. Monyvann says he still wants to hold the press conference to announce the results of the recent trips to Svay Rieng, Kandal, Ratanakkiri and Tbong Khmum provinces, but Mr. Vun, a CPP lawmaker, said Mr. Samrin has every right to manage the National Assembly building as he sees fit.
“They are members of parliament, so they should respect the internal rules of the National Assembly,” Mr. Vun said. “The internal rules…say [Mr. Samrin] is responsible for the National Assembly processes, so he has the right to authorize or not authorize things done at the National Assembly.”
“The National Assembly is not a fish market that people can enter and exit arbitrarily. Holding a press conference is not a simple thing because it requires the issuing of cards for those coming to the conference, and in particular Samdech President [Mr. Samrin] is responsible for National Assembly security,” he added.
“If they want to hold a press conference, why don’t they bring journalists to organize a press conference at the border?”
Mr. Monyvann said he and other CNRP lawmakers would release a public statement today outlining their demands for the government to release the map of the border with Vietnam and detailing their recent trips to the area.
“Samdech Heng Samrin’s rejection of our use of the National Assembly to hold a press conference is of course political discrimination,” Mr. Monyvann said. “It is a place of the people, not the possession of a political party.”
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he would discuss with deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha whether to push the CPP to allow the press conference, and said the rules requiring lawmakers to seek Mr. Samrin’s permission to go on missions were wrong.
“As lawmakers, they do not need permission to do their duty, which is to follow a situation wherever there are concerns from the population,” Mr. Rainsy said. “The people are their boss, and they do not need permission from any other alleged boss.”
“Things were very strict before, and the opposition was not very powerful. But now we find [such rules] even more irrelevant, because given the balance of the power, it is not justified in any way to restrict the rights of lawmakers to expose the results of investigations they have conducted,” he said.