All 125 lawmakers-elect were officially sworn in on the afternoon of August 21 at the Royal Palace, after the National Assembly (NA) approved their validity during the inaugural session of its 7th legislative term under the auspices of King Norodom Sihamoni.
The oath, shared to the media, stated that lawmakers will respect the Constitution, safeguard national and public interests and refrain from embezzling state property for personal gains.
“We, the lawmakers, prepare to sacrifice our lives to protect, now and in the future, the independence of the motherland, national sovereignty and territory integrity, based on the laws on land and sea borders which Cambodia defined from 1963 to 1969.
“We will protect national unity and defy any division or any secession,” they said.
The oath also stressed the Kingdom’s non-alliance position and vow to prevent any individual from interfering with Cambodian affairs, or dictating its domestic or foreign policy.
“We utterly refrain from serving any foreign interest which will affect the interests of our people, nation and the motherland,” the oath continued.
Regarding the solving of domestic or international conflicts, the lawmakers vowed to avoid violence but reserve the rights to use weapons to resist any violation or invasion from outside.
Respect for human rights and adherence to the principles of a multi-party liberal democracy are also included in the oath.
The final part of the oath focuses on combating corruption and fighting social injustice.
“Both of these things must be resisted for the sake of national reconciliation, peace, social order and prosperity,” it stated.prosperity,” it concluded.
While addressing the session, the King congratulated all the members of parliament who were chosen by the people in the July 23 general election.
“On this auspicious occasion, I wish to share my congratulations with all members of the Assembly who earned the trust of the public through the recent general election,” he said.
The King noted that since the birth of the NA following the first democratic election administered by the UN in 1993, Cambodia has transformed itself from a broken nation beset with territory divisions to a country of peace, stability, democracy and development in all sectors, enabling the populace to live with hope and happiness.
He holds expectations that the legislative branch will continue to fulfil their role as stated in the Constitution, and ensure political and socio-economic progress, building the Kingdom into a strong advanced state based on the rule of law.
“The parliament shall ensure that laws are equally applied to all and promote the rights and freedom of the people.
“As the representatives of the Khmer nation, lawmakers shall do their utmost to ensure that all Cambodian people enjoy equality, access to quality education and employment which match their capacities,” he said.
The King also expressed his belief in the new government-elect, tipped to be sworn in following a vote of confidence by the National Assembly on August 22. He called on all civil servants to fulfil their duties based on policies which boost economic growth and promote people’s living standards.
The King holds expectation that the new government will continue the Kingdom’s development, strengthen its inclusive social protection system, and sustainably preserve and promote its unique culture.
“This will ensure the continued existence of a strong national identity and drive socio-economic growth, as well as promoting morality that will ensure social harmony,” he said.
“To achieve these admirable goals, Cambodia shall embrace unity, solidarity and the spirit of national reconciliation, while adhering to the four epochs of the Buddha: Loving-kindness, compassion, sympathy and equanimity,” he added.
Following the King’s address, incumbent NA president Heng Samrin led the session and approved the validity of the new members.
At 89, Samrin, a lawmaker for Tbong Khmum province, is the eldest lawmaker, with Kampong Cham’s Noeun Raden, a spokesman for the royalist FUNCINPEC Party, the youngest, at 37.
The inaugural session also approved the internal rules of the legislature.
Caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen took to social media to congratulate the successful outcome of the session.
“This session marked a significant event. By following the Constitution and laws, Cambodia successfully inaugurated the 7th mandate of the National Assembly,” he wrote.
On the same day, Tea Seiha, incumbent Siem Reap provincial governor and lawmaker, expressed his gratitude to the King for presiding over the opening ceremony.
“His precious presence was a blessing as the legislative branch prepared to commence their mission. I will remember Your Majesty’s advice for us all to do our utmost to serve our nation and people,” he said in a social media post.
Prince Norodom Chakravuth, a lawmaker for Phnom Penh and president of FUNCINPEC who won five of the total 125 parliament seats, echoed the sentiments.
“As a lawmaker, I would like to express my gratitude to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni for opening the inaugural session of the 7th-mandate National Assembly.
“I will remember Your Majesty’s advice and will try my best to serve the nation and people equally before the law,” he said.
The first session also saw the presence of several foreign diplomats and representatives of major local and international organisations.
“I joined the Phnom Penh Diplomatic Corps for the opening of the National Assembly. His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni spoke about the important duty of the Assembly to support peace and prosperity and deliver for the people of Cambodia,” tweeted UK ambassador Dominic Williams.
Also in attendance was US ambassador W Patrick Murphy, who later shared photographs of the session – along with remarks critical of the Kingdom’s political environment.
Russian ambassador Anatoly Borovik was also a guest at the ceremony.
“An honour to attend the inaugural session of the 7th Legislature of the National Assembly. Looking forward to continued fruitful Russia-Cambodia cooperation in the new term of the parliament,” he tweeted.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Centre for Development and Peace, opined that although the new NA includes five members from FUNCINPEC – the only second runner-up in the 2023 general election – the number was too low for the party to voice any concerns they may have, as 10 lawmakers were required to raise any issues to the Parliament.
He was optimistic, however, that lawmakers from the royalist party would meet with the public and understand their needs.
“If they want to express ideas in Parliament, they will need to join with members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] so they can reach the requirement of 10,” he said.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, described the inaugural session as marking another significant milestone in the journey of the Kingdom’s multi-party democracy.
He also noted how it was also important that foreign diplomats, particularly from western countries, had attended and witnessed the process.
“It is notable that the NA is no longer a single-party Parliament, as FUNCINPEC received five seats.
“We hope that the new legislative mandate will fulfil their duties according to the law. It is crucial that lawmakers obey their oath to the nation, the people and the King, and do everything they can for national interests,” he added.
He stressed that what he and the general public want from the lawmakers are laws that respond to the genuine needs of society and the people, rather than serving any one particular group and leaving a large portion of society behind.
He also suggested that the public also want lawmakers to review the laws and policies applied by national institutions and hold them to their respective duties and responsibilities.