SRP Renews Rejection of NA Service Medals

The SRP on Tuesday again spurned the awarding of medals at the National Assembly for service to the country, saying the decorations were “dishonorable and degrading.”

A ceremony was held at the Assembly to present the 74 CPP, 26 Funcinpec and 24 SRP lawmakers with medals in recognition of their service. The awards were given Tuesday on the final day of debates for the current Assembly, which will shut its doors until after July’s national election.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the Assembly had passed a record 145 draft laws during the mandate and that the medals were meant to encourage dedication and service.

“The boycott was the SRP’s right,” he said after the award ceremony. “It’s [SRP President] Sam Rainsy’s habit.”

In 2002, SRP lawmakers took a similar stance, vowing to return government medals after they were awarded. In a Tuesday statement, the opposition party said the medals were prized only by the corrupt and going so far as to say that if they had accepted the medals they would have “immediately thrown them in the dust bin.”

Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Saphan said he had gladly accepted his medal as it had been offered in the name of King Norodom Sihamoni.

“I gladly accept anything offered by the King. I am a member of a royalist party in a monarchy,” he said by telephone.

Cheam Yeap also said the SRP’s reaction had shown disrespect to the King, who had approved the awarding of the medals.

“Such a statement looks down on the King,” he said.

However, Sam Rainsy denied the allegation.

The statement “did not look down on the King, but opposed government officials,” Sam Rainsy said by telephone.

“We didn’t look down on the King because His Majesty only agreed with the government’s proposal. The King never says ‘no,’ but [this] is not his initiative,” Sam Rainsy said.

Tuesday also saw the Assembly pass its last legislation of the third mandate, a draft law geared at regulating the export and import of seeds used in agriculture.

After two days of debate, the draft law was adopted without opposition Tuesday morning with all 86 lawmakers present voting in favor of the 84-article draft.

If promulgated, the law will give the Agriculture Ministry control over licensing the import and export of seeds to ensure they meet quality standards.

Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun, who was on hand to defend the law, told the Assembly that there are 1,000 different seeds in use by Cambodian farmers but that unregulated import and export in the 1980s had hurt Cambodian farmers.

With the Assembly closing its doors, it means that yet another mandate has come and gone without the passage of the long-awaited anti-corruption law or the new criminal code.

Also caught in limbo is the newly drafted law on demonstrations, which the Assembly sent back to the government in February for amending.

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