Having grown impatient waiting for the government to present its highly secretive draft law on anticorruption to the National Assembly, the SRP decided to submit its own version of an anti-graft draft law, SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said yesterday.
The government’s draft, first proposed in 1994, was finally approved by the Council of Ministers on Dec 11, but no copies of the draft have been released to lawmakers at the Assembly, Mr Chhay said.
“Everyone is waiting for the government to move ahead on this law,” he said. “We have been waiting too long, and we can’t wait anymore.”
Mr Chhay said his party submitted its own draft law to the Assembly yesterday. “I submitted it [yesterday] morning,” Mr Chhay said, adding that despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP holding two-thirds majority in the Assembly, he wanted “to see if the Parliament would be willing to adopt my draft law.” He added that he developed the anticorruption law in the late 1990s with the help of UN experts.
Mr Chhay also said government secrecy surrounding the draft law on anticorruption was unusual, and he had been unable to acquire a copy of the draft despite his best efforts.
“It’s very strange. Normally when a draft has been approved by the Council of Ministers, we, the parliamentarians, would get a copy.”
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal aid Cambodian Defenders Project, said his organization had also been unable to gain access to the proposed anti-graft law, which he said was closely guarded by the Council. “I heard that after the meeting at the Council of Ministers [to approve the draft anticorruption law], they took back the copies of the draft from all the ministers,” Mr Sam Oeun said, adding this was an unprecedented measure.
Mr Sam Oeun said the lack of public information on the draft was not in keeping with democratic principles, adding, “If we follow the ways of democracy as stated in the Cambodian Constitution, it should be open to the public.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan reiterated earlier statements that the draft could only be made public when it reached the Assembly, adding he did not know when this would happen.
“The draft law is going to be made public in the National Assembly,” Mr Siphan said. “We have no procedure to distribute it to NGOs…. We treat it as an internal document.”