Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday announced that his ruling CPP would give two positions in each of the National Assembly’s nine commissions to the Sam Rainsy Party if they stop criticizing the government.
Hun Sen’s announcement comes after the SRP submitted a request asking that the Assembly add three more commissions, which the SRP would then chair.
Hun Sen said CPP lawmakers wouldn’t vote for the SRP lawmakers to join the commissions because the opposition lawmakers have “cursed” the government.
“You curse me daily; I won’t vote for you. If you are calm, we will vote for you. But they have chosen to curse,” Hun Sen said during a graduation ceremony at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
“Now we have reserved two positions in each commission. Now you can participate, but I don’t guarantee whether the lawmakers would vote for you.”
Hun Sen claimed that the SRP had wanted to wage a war against the CPP in order to demand the commission positions.
“They are waging war to compete for the National Assembly’s commission positions,” Hun Sen said. “CPP talked about finishing the war. [The SRP said] the war still exists because they don’t have assembly’s positions. They are preparing to wage another war to grab the Assembly’s commission positions.”
SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann said that SRP would continue to offer constructive criticism in an effort to improve the government, no matter what position offers the CPP put forward.
“Without criticism, it is not a democracy,” he said.
The SRP has requested the Assembly create three new commissions, he added, because right now each commission oversees six to seven government ministries, making effective oversight impossible.
“We want the National Assembly to be efficient; there are no checks and balances between the government and the Assembly right now,” he said.
Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia Director Koul Panha said that the government should not trade off the Assembly’s committee positions in exchanging for silencing opposition criticism.
“It is not cursing, it is criticism,” he said. “The opposition party’s role is to criticize the government.”