The new $30-million National Assembly building will be inaugurated in a July 7 opening
bash for which the government has budgeted nearly half a million dollars. CPP lawmaker
Cheam Yeap said the government plans to spend about $470,000 for the 7 am ceremony
and will invite 7,007 guests to what opposition MPs are calling an overly ostentacious
Phnom Penh officials torch a pole of confiscated illegal drugs on June 26, destroying some 117,487 pills, 1,951 bottles of liquid drugs, bushels of marijuana, as well as assorted drug paraphenalia. Eleven high schools participated in the anti-drug event.
"Besides Angkor Wat that former Cambodian kings established, the State has never
established a huge mansion like this," said Yeap. "The new National Assembly
building will make history for the entire nation."
The new assembly building, begun in 2003, now spans 28,049 square meters and consists
of five main buildings-including two for parliamentarians' offices and one that will
serve as a restaurant. According to Yeap, the old building, which has been renovated
six times, is too old, and too small at only about 2,000 square meters.
He said the new National Assembly building is more than ten times bigger than its
predecessor which simply can't accommodate the 123 parliamentarians and more than
2,000 civil servants who work there. "The old one is too narrow-[we] just breathe
and then get infected by tuberculosis from each other," said Yeap.
Yim Sovann, SRP lawmaker, acknowledged that for comfort and efficiency a new building
was needed. But Sovann criticized what he called a non-public bidding process and
improper use of the national budget. He added the ceremony should not be ostentatious,
and if the government wanted to be known all over the world, they should simply televise
"In the present situation our citizens are poor, so I think there's no need
to take $400,000 to organize the opening ceremony," said Sovann. "It is
better to take this money to help the welfare of the people"
He said the ceremony should be held on about 25 percent of what has been budgeted.
Yeap said July 7 was selected because it will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment
of the Cambodian National Assembly in 1947. The opening will be attended by King
Norodom Sihamoni and other legislative and executive officials and foreign officials.
Yeap said he invited five or six representatives from each province, as well as representatives
of ethnic minority groups.
"We've asked the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior and Phnom Penh
Municipality police to ensure the [events'] security because today the international
terrorists have spread all over the world, and secondly, the new National Assembly
is near the Naga Casino-and we do not know where people who come to play cards come
from," he said.