The Law on Quality Goods and Services, debated for months in the National Assembly before its passage last week, virtually shot through the Senate Friday with 46 of 51 senators present voting in favor.
Senators raised few questions about the 74-article law, prompting criticism by one opposition senator.
“Many articles were not discussed,” while others received just a question or two, said Senator Kong Korm of the Sam Rainsy Party. Some senators said they were concerned that the government had asked that the law be considered on an “urgent” basis, meaning lawmakers had only five days to pass it.
Prince Sisowath Chivon Monirak, acting Senate president, said one day’s debate was not enough, and that the government should “reconsider what is urgent.”
Other senators echoed concerns that had been raised in the National Assembly, including whether the new law violates the Constitution by allowing for warrantless searches of home businesses. But during the debate, government representatives apparently satisfied their critics, as the law was adopted without change by day’s end.
Sok Siphana, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, said the ministry had “started drafting the law more than two years ago, and we felt it had been adequately aired in the National Assembly.’’
Sok Siphana said he believed some of the lengthy debate in the National Assembly had as much to do with legislators wanting to “score points” on TV as it did with the merits of the law.
And while the law is an important one, and deserved the article-by-article scrutiny it received in the National Assembly, he said he didn’t see why the whole process should be repeated in the Senate.
In other legislative action last week, the National Assembly approved the provisions necessary to remain a member of Asean, the regional economic, cultural and security organization.
(Additional reporting by Jody McPhillips)