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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MPs conspicuous in their absence from Assembly

MPs conspicuous in their absence from Assembly

A lack of a quorum in the National Assembly continues to hamper debate over laws

and is annoying some MPs.

"I am very frustrated and everybody is

frustrated with the lack of a quorum," Funcinpec MP Ahmad Yahya said last week,

after discussion on the press law had been stopped three times because there

were too few MPs.

"I have many times suggested the amendment of internal

regulations... If we can't meet during the day, we'd better continue at

night."

At least 84 of Cambodia's 120 MPs have to be present before

National Assembly sessions can be opened. Observers say sessions are frequently

cancelled because too few MPs turn up.

The government's controversial

press law is the latest to be delayed by the problem.

Debate on the law

was scheduled to resume on Tuesday July 4 but was adjourned to Thursday July 6

because of a lack of a quorum. Assembly sessions are not held on Wednesday

because of a ministerial cabinet meeting.

MPs returned to the assembly on

the Thursday and held a full day of debate.

The session resumed the

following day, with 86 MPs present, and two hours of debate held. But four MPs

were absent after a coffee break, and the session had to be

abandoned.

Again on Saturday morning, there was a lack of a

quorum.

One MP, who requested anonymity, said the problem was that MPs

were too busy. "Some have too many positions, they cannot spare their time for

this."

Another said there was a "leadership problem", with little

encouragement for MPs to attend the assembly.

By press time, MPs had made

little progress on debating the press law article by article. They were only up

to Article 12 of the law, with some MPs unhappy at how long the debate had

taken.

Minister of Information Ieng Mouly at one stage complained that

MPs were concentrating on minor changes to the law, and not the wider issues to

be debated.

"If we debate only to change words in the law without looking

at the content of the articles, we will probably never finish a bill in two

years," he said.

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