Disputed demonstration law bumped off agenda for debate.
A DAY after it held heated debates about a proposed Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, the National Assembly turned its attention on Thursday to hurriedly passing the draft of a new foreign investment law, prompting concerns from opposition lawmakers.
Officials from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party said the law would need to be adopted immediately, so that Prime Minister Hun Sen could publicise it during this month’s ASEAN summit in Thailand.
However, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay expressed concern when the CPP-dominated assembly announced it would postpone deliberations of the controversial demonstration law and instead rush through the new investment law.
Son Chhay said Cambodia could benefit from greater trade with ASEAN, but that increased investment required a sound legal framework and should not be rushed.
“This is a factor that we must consider. We should not be happy that this work is being hurried, but we also need to join with [ASEAN] so we do not remain isolated,” he said.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap told the assembly on behalf of his party that he agreed with the government’s request to put the investment law on the agenda, saying the parliament does not “play children’s games” and had adhered to parliamentary regulations.
He said the assembly’s Permanent Committee, led by assembly President Heng Samrin, had received a government request signed by the prime minister to hurry the passage of the law in time for the ASEAN summit, due to be held in Hua Hin from October 22 to 25.
Cheam Yeap said the proposed law, which is designed to stimulate investment from and among the 10 ASEAN member countries, was a requirement under the organisation’s regulations.
“To be a member of ASEAN, Cambodia must have an [investment law], so it is necessary that we adopt it quickly. [Prime Minister Hun Sen] will go and hold it as proof of the reputation of the Kingdom of Cambodia,” he said.
SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann said he supported the law as a way of encouraging investment in Cambodia but added that if the government had this aim, the article of the law must be refined and subjected to scrutiny.
“If our court system is sound, then investors will have the confidence to invest in our country,” Yim Sovann said. “I lift my hand to support this law because it is important, but next time please arrange 10 days’ notice before it is adopted.”