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
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.