SRP Says New Rule Is an Unfair Numbers Game

Returning to parliament this week from a six-month long boycott, Sam Rainsy Party officials said they were troubled by a new as­sem­bly rule that requires lawmakers to form groups of 13 in or­der to take the assembly floor for debate.

The new internal rule, which was passed while the Sam Rainsy Party was boycotting parliamentary sessions, is a disadvantage to the opposition party because they have 24 members in the assembly—just enough to form one group but strand­ing their remaining 11 lawmakers in silence.

Meanwhile Funcinpec, with 26 lawmakers, can form two groups comfortably. The CPP, with 73 lawmakers, can form five groups with only eight remaining.

“Why choose 13? It is because Funcinpec has 26 seats, isn’t it?” op­position lawmaker Son Chhay ask­ed the Assembly on Wednes­day.

“The National Assembly is strong when the opposition’s voice is res­pected. Don’t see the opposition as an enemy but as a partner,” he im­plored his fellow parliamentarians.

Keo Remy, another opposition law­maker, told reporters after the ses­sion that the 13-in-a-group “rule eliminates the voices of Sam Rainsy Party’s lawmakers.”

Funcinpec parliamentarian Monh Saphan, a member of the As­sem­bly’s permanent commission, said that the rule was adopted by a two-thirds majority and that the opposition party must respect the majority’s voice.

“Lawmakers have the right to request amendment to the rule but it depends on agreement from the ma­jority,” he said.

Monh Saphan acknowledged that the groupless lawmakers from one party would be unlikely to join with another party to create a special group because “each par­ty has separate political goals.”

Koul Panha, director of the Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections, said the assembly rule has the political goal of “cutting the freedom of opposition lawmakers.”

“It is not a fair division,” he said.

 

 

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