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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Law-shy govt is under pressure

Law-shy govt is under pressure

T HE Royal Government, already under fire for slow progress in passing essential

laws, will come under increasing pressure this week with the re-opening of the

National Assembly for its second session after the New Year.

The

government only managed to get this year's budget and a financial structures law

approved in the assembly's first session, which ended in December.

Government critics will be watching this session closely, with only a

new investment law, a press law and an immigration law nearing the stage of

submission to the assembly for approval.

The legacy of the enactment of

the new constitution last year is a huge law-making task necessary to flesh out

the charter and give it muscles.

The pressure on the government is

particularly intense over the new investment code, with many foreign investors

putting projects on hold until the contents are known and it has passed into

law.

Along with the investment law, the press law and an immigration law

are currently awaiting approval by the Council of Ministers before being

submitted to the assembly.

The commissions, or parliamentary committees,

of the assembly have worked through the three-month recess but they only

received one law to consider.

The list of laws needing to be passed

urgently is a long and daunting one.

Among them are a penal code, a

criminal procedures code, an immigration law, a citizenship law, a Supreme

Council of Magistracy Law, a Bar Association Law, and a property law.

A

number of vital laws have yet to be drafted and, according to a variety of

sources, among these are a citizenship law, a Constitutional Council law and a

law governing the Royal Council of the Throne Council, which will decide the

succession.

Despite the lack of progress on the Constitutional Council

law, it is one of the most urgently-needed by the government.

The

council's job is to ensure newly-passed laws conform to the

constitution.

But the law organizing it and describing how it works has

not yet been drafted.

The Constitution states: "The Constitutional

Council shall have the duty to safeguard respect for the Constitution, to

intepret the Constitution, and the laws passed by the Asembly."

In fact,

the procedure by which the government is passing and enacting laws is already

unconstitutional.

Article 121 stipulates that "The King, the Prime

Minister, the President of the Assembly, or one tenth of the assembly members

shall forward draft bills to the Constitutional Council for examination before

their promulgation."

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