SRP lawmakers and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections have criticized provincial parliamentarian offices—small outposts meant to link people and their Assembly members in Phnom Penh —saying they presently serve little purpose.
The criticism of the offices follows an article published Sunday in the Khmer-language Kampuchea Thmey Daily newspaper reporting that cows and goats have overrun Takeo province’s parliamentary office.
Kuoy Bunroeun, SRP lawmaker for Takeo, said the offices are also supposed to serve as workplaces for lawmakers when they visit their constituencies, but they are too cramped to be of any use.
“They do not work…. The National Assembly should eliminate the offices,” he said.
SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang, who is also a lawmaker for Battambang province, said that he doesn’t even know the location of the office in his province.
“The staff just write up the activities of the lawmakers [when they visit the province] and accept complaints,” he said, but added that complaints are often not forwarded to lawmakers.
“People do not use the offices,” Comfrel Executive Director Koul Panha said. “There is no process, there is not enough staff and there is not a sufficient budget,” he said.
Koul Panha said the inefficacy of the provincial parliamentary offices leads people to travel all the way to the capital to get their grievances heard.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap defended the offices, saying that he was very satisfied with the office in his province of Prey Veng.
Cheam Yeap said that the offices and staff, which amount to two or three individuals per office, are funded by the National Assembly, which also financed the construction of the buildings.
“It is very important for the National Assembly,” he said of the offices, adding that they are a key link in connecting lawmakers and voters.
Assembly Secretary-General Leng Peng Long is responsible for the staffers at the offices, Cheam Yeap said, adding that if staff are not showing up for work or failing in their duties, they should be disciplined.
A man answering Leng Peng Long’s telephone Monday said the secretary-general was not available.
Deputy Secretary-General Hul Buntha said he was not aware of the offices.