The National Assembly yesterday unanimously passed a draft law aimed at preventing and controlling fires – and making those responsible for fire damage more criminally liable.
The fire prevention bill, which passed with 94 of a possible 97 votes – and without opposition from Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers – is among a number of draft laws being discussed in the National Assembly this week.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng told the assembly yesterday that the law was necessary due to the number of fires caused by carelessness.
“This law will be very important in protecting public safety, saving lives, reducing poverty and increasing the confidence of investors and tourists,” he said.
Under article 27 of the law, a firefighter who does not promptly put out a fire that then causes serious damage to property can be jailed for up to two years and fined $1,000 if he or she is found to have been negligent.
Such an article was necessary due to a culture of bribery that existed in firefighting ranks, opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann said.
“We have noted cases of firefighters asking people for bribes before putting out their fires,” he said. “I ask the Ministry of Interior as a law enforcer to eradicate these types of demands for money when people need help.
“As far as this law goes, we support it completely and think it will be very useful to help prevent disaster.”
For the rest of the week, lawmakers will discuss an agricultural draft law, amendments to the penal code and a draft law relating to an agreement between ASEAN and China over the South China Sea.
One draft law not expected to be discussed and approved this week is the trade-union law, which Dave Welsh, American Center for International Labor Solidarity country manager, said yesterday was “still buried”.
This despite its existence in final draft form since 2011 and Prime Minister Hun Sen having urged that it be enacted by the end of that year.
“It’s certainly not dead, but there has not been any advancement,” he said of the law, which would give informal workers the right to unionise and bargain collectively.
“At some point, it has to emerge . . . but at this stage, I’d be amazed if anything was done before the election.”
Nady Tann, secretary-general of the government who deals with draft laws for the Council of Ministers, said recently that long waits for draft laws to be enacted could sometimes be explained by the amount of scrutiny they come under to ensure they are free of mistakes.
“It’s true that some laws have to be approved 50 times or more along the way before they are introduced,” he said. “We pay a lot of attention to the details.”
About 10 to 20 laws were introduced each year, Tann added.
Additional reporting by Mom Kunthear