Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Civil society groups slam Samrin circular

Civil society groups slam Samrin circular

Civil society groups slam Samrin circular

Thirteen prominent civil society organisations yesterday said that a controversial circular issued by National Assembly president Heng Samrin on September 12 violates principles of democracy and transparency, along with the constitution and internal assembly regulations.

The circular stipulates that parliamentary commissions – half of which are now led by the opposition party – must ask permission from Samrin to meet with practically any outsiders in the assembly compound, are not allowed to open the questioning of government officials to media or civil society, and need to go through the prime minister via Samrin to summon ministers.

The NGOs, which include umbrella body the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, Transparency International and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, say Samrin has no legal right to issue such circulars regulating commissions.

He has been accused of giving himself “CEO-like” powers and liberally interpreting the assembly’s internal regulations to reduce the clout that commissions have to hold the government to account.

On September 17, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron was questioned by the education commission on his reform efforts, but nine representatives from NGOs and international organisations, including UNESCO, were “barred from attending”, the groups say.

“It is clear that this circular has made the debate between the commissions and ministers or government not transparent and not public,” they said in a statement, adding that it violated citizens’ access to information rights.

“I very much regret that the Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers are afraid of dialogue as a tool to solve the problems of the nation,” CCHR chairman Ou Virak said at a press conference yesterday.

But Lork Kheng, a CPP lawmaker and deputy chair of the human rights commission, said the circular was “in accordance with the internal regulations and with the consensus of all commissions”.

“I do not think that it is wrong and lawmakers from the two parties have been smoothly working together to resolve problems for people, especially my first commission,” she said.

The opposition has said it will challenge the circular.


  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh