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Parliamentary Training for MPs

To strengthen and promote the emerging democracy was the goal of the parliamentarian

workshop organized on October 1-3 by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and

the International Republican Institute (IRI) for the 120 members of Cambodian National

Assembly.

Entitled "Prospects for Peace and Democracy in Cambodia: The Role of the National

Assembly" the program was lead by parliamentarians and legislative experts from

four countries-Bangladesh, Thailand, the Philippines and the United States-who shared

their experiences on lawmaking and policy development, public accountability, parliamentary

procedures, and the role of political parties in the National Assembly.

Jamie Factor, country representative of NDI, said this workshop was planned in multi-party

format and it was the advent of the institute's three-year training program, following

several others that already took place during pre and post election period.

"The purpose of the workshop is to present a comparative view of parliamentary

system and we want them to pick up options. It's their parliament," she said.

Fifty assemblymen took part in the workshop started with a general session in which

foreign experts described how their parliaments do their job in daily life. The attendees

sat in small groups to discuss ideas and practice the preparation of draft bills.

The representative went on to say the main focus was on parliamentary procedures

and its structure, on how to introduce legislation, debate and its adoption, the

role and responsibility of secretariat, and on the necessity of setting up a library

for the assembly.

Speaking on IRI's behalf, Jamie Factor said IRI would establish resource centers

in some provinces in order to promote democratic principles at the local level. NDI

and IRI would launch complementary programs through resource centers in a bid to

encourage parliament to forge links between building democracy in the provinces and

to strengthen relationships between MPs and the people.

"The 120 MPs are equal in their voice and are responsible. Their voice must

be heard in the parliament and in the provinces so people can feel that they work

for them," she said.

The attendees expressed satisfaction with the workshop and viewed it as beneficial

for the MPs to carry out their duty.

"They (experts) gave many good ideas that we have to synthesize to use under

the existing reality. Before I had little idea about work procedures and internal

structure of the parliament, but now they are clear to me," said MP Serey Kosal.

"We asked NDI to provide night school to us because we are new and we need more

training. We are not well educated," said MP Yah Ya.

He said the constitution was democratic, but still the question of achieving democracy

lays within its application.

"So, we need more such seminars to save democracy from suppression. If the constitution

is not democratic, just forget about it," he said.

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