Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Assembly criticised over MPs’ immunity



Assembly criticised over MPs’ immunity

A view of the National Assembly in-session during which the draft law on the Senate election was approved yesterday in Phnom Penh.
A view of the National Assembly in-session during which the draft law on the Senate election was approved yesterday in Phnom Penh.

Assembly criticised over MPs’ immunity

During an otherwise routine National Assembly session to make amendments to the Senate Election Law, opposition lawmaker Son Chhay yesterday took the opportunity to criticise the assembly for not adhering to immunity laws after the arrests and convictions of lawmakers Um Sam An and Senator Hong Sok Hour.

Sam An and Sok Hour are serving two-and-a-half- and seven-year sentences, respectively, for Facebook posts accusing the government of ceding land to Vietnam. Their legal immunity was deemed by the government to not apply because they had been caught “in the act” of committing a crime.

“We cannot say all what he [Hong Sok Hour] expressed was right but we have to . . . make sure that immunity should be protected,” Chhay said.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Chheang Vun was quick to rebut, calling the duo’s actions racist and an attempt to divide Cambodian society.

“His Excellency [Son Chhay] has to understand that the action [against] them is according to the law. If you have immunity it does not mean you can do anything,” Vun said.

Ngim Nheng, meanwhile, seconded Chhay’s comments, calling on National Assembly President Heng Samrin to protect members.

“Please help to make sure lawmakers’ immunity is protected . . . We are lawmakers – we work by expressing ideas and if the expression is violated we would not work well,” he said.

To this, National Assembly President Heng Samrin responded that he backed all his members except those who committed “flagrante delicto”, or red-handed, crimes.

Son Chhay also used the occasion to bring up the issue of workers, especially those in garment factories, not being given days off in order to vote during the recently concluded commune elections.

In response, Interior Minister Sar Kheng asked the lawmaker not to use a debate on election law to bring up a separate issue, instead asking him to send a letter to the relevant authorities.

“I think this is not the right time to answer and there’s no need to answer because now we are talking about law, but you have asked something else,” Sar Kheng said.

In the end, the assembly did pass amendments to the Senate Election Law, which largely serve as updates to conform with prior changes to the National Assembly and commune election laws.

The vote also cemented the date for the upcoming Senate elections on January 14 and added one additional seat, increasing the body to 62 members.

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration