The Consultation Forum – a committee formed by Prime Minister Hun Sen as a step towards a “culture of dialogue” – held its first meeting on Thursday to discuss the social issues its members had uncovered across the Kingdom.
The first meeting was held after the members, all from various political parties, were encouraged to investigate complaints brought forth by the Cambodian people. Participants told The Post that the problems discussed included land disputes, illegal logging and how to raise awareness about the role of the forum.
“We have reports and the people’s complaints, so we did not simply raise general issues. We raised the issues that we have been studying,” said Pich Sros, president of the Cambodian Youth Party.
“Other parties raised complaints about forest crime and some concerns about the hydropower dam in Stung Treng province, while others brought up the 2019 national budget – so it was a mix of issues.”
Sros said that the members submitted reports to the president of the forum and discussed the issues raised by fellow members.
In an interview last month, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the role of the forum was to provide opinion on policies, provide feedback on draft laws and advise the prime minister on inaction or violations by government officials.
Khmer Rise Party preisdent Sok Sovann Vathana Sabong brought up beach development in Sihanouvkille. He suggested asking the local authorities to explain the situation.
“If clarification of the officials is inconsistent with what we have personally learned, we will submit this issues to the prime minister,” he said.
The president of the forum serves on a monthly rotation based on each party’s ballot slot positions of the National Election Committee. The current president is Chhim Phal Virum, a former CPP spokesman.
Phal Virum said many local authorities were uninformed about the role of the forum and some were confused about the investigations. He suggested a campaign to promote the role of the forum, estimating it would take about a year for local officials to support it.