The National Assembly, which remains filled with only ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers due to the opposition’s boycott, passed three laws in almost as many hours yesterday, including a key development plan that will require an estimated $26.58 billion in spending and investment over the next five years.
The National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 2014-2018, the government’s guiding policy document, was passed unanimously by 65 ruling party lawmakers, along with a law on legal cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam and an extradition treaty with the neighbouring country.
All laws were passed with no substantive debate on the floor of parliament. A few lawmakers did speak up, but only to lambast the Cambodia National Rescue Party for not being there.
Deputy CNRP leader Kem Sokha reiterated the opposition’s stance that any laws passed by parliament in party’s absence were “meaningless”.
“This is a single-party parliament, an illegal parliament and I’m not interested,” he said yesterday.
“Whatever the [CPP] wants to pass it can go ahead and do it because these laws are all meaningless.”
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap defended the bills being passed, saying that all laws had come under rigorous scrutiny.
“I would like to tell everyone that the Cambodian People’s Party is a party that examines [laws] clearly. We have led the country for 25 years, so before submitting [laws] to [parliament] we invite ministers to debate them,” he said.
The NSDP was approved by the Council of Ministers late last month and has raised concerns that its current estimated cost will saddle the country with debt.
As the law was being read yesterday, CPP lawmaker Suos Yara stood to question Senior Minister of Planning Chhay Than about the plan, but not in relation to its funding.
“I would like to raise a question to your excellency senior minister and the working group: Have you created and prepared indicators [showing] the risks caused by politicians who were elected but have not served the people?”