Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Eighteen of 20 parties now in forum after GDP, OMLP join

Eighteen of 20 parties now in forum after GDP, OMLP join

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
GDP board of directors chairman Yang Saing Koma. Pha Lina

Eighteen of 20 parties now in forum after GDP, OMLP join

Two more parties have decided to participate in the Consultation Forum, which had its inaugural meeting last week. This brings its membership to 18 of the 20 parties that participated in the July 29 national elections.

However, the leaders of the latest parties to sign up said they disapproved of the idea that advisers receive a government stipend.

Initially floated by Prime Minister-designate Hun Sen shortly after the final election results, the forum was convened on August 21, and saw leaders from opposition parties gather at the capital’s Peace Palace to discuss the role of the newly formed body.

At the time, members of the League for Democracy Party (LDP), the Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP), the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party (KAPP) and the Our Motherland Party (OMLP) declined to participate.

But on Monday, party leaders from the GDP and the OMLP announced their group’s intention to take part, despite not yet having sent a formal letter to the government.

GDP board of directors chairman Yang Saing Koma told The Post on Monday that he supported mechanisms that allow opposition parties to participate in the consultation.

“I welcome it. It’s good for government leaders to create a forum, or some mechanism allowing parties outside the National Assembly to participate in discussions and consult with the government. We can do it regularly. Let’s say once every month or once every three months.

“But I think it is not necessary for members of the [Consultation Forum] to have positions, salaries, cars or financial benefits. Why? Like it or not, this is a role for political parties to serve the people and their supporters,” he said.

Saing Koma said instead of party leaders receiving funds, they should be given to the small parties themselves, which often lack enough funding for operations.

“A small part of the national budget should be set aside to support parties. Therefore, they can conduct research, educate people and consult with them regarding legal matters and government policies. We would welcome that,” he said.

Similarly, OMLP president Chan Bunhorn, whose party boycotted the initial meeting, on Monday told The Post it had held internal discussions and decided to participate in the forum.

The OMLP too had yet to send a formal letter indicating their position to the government.

“We have talked about the issue. We decided on our [position], but we have to send an official letter. We all agreed that we should do what we can to benefit the people. We have to persist and struggle ahead."

“I say struggle because after we go [to the forum] critics will insult us. We don’t mind, we must go ahead,” he said.

Echoing Saing Koma, Bunhorn said he doesn’t want any paid position within the government. “I live a simple life. I am not a millionaire, but I have food. My work can help the people if I participate, and the people will benefit, so I want to go,” he said.

In contrast, Sin Vannarith, secretary general of the KAPP, doubled down on the party’s initial boycott of the group which was trumpeted by the ruling party as building a “culture of dialogue”.

“We still hold the same position and will not participate. First, we believe our participation has to provide advantages for society and the people,” he said.

After the court dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last year, the KAPP was offered five seats within the National Assembly by the National Election Committee (NEC). The party turned down the offer.

“We declined the seats at that time because it contradicted with the KAPP’s policies and the people’s will . . . we don’t want positions to just go there and read newspapers,” he said.

LDP stays out

Representatives from the LDP could not be reached on Monday, but Kov Kea, the party’s spokesman, previously told The Post that it wouldn’t participate in the body unless government decisions could be overturned.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
LDP leader Khem Veasna. Heng Chivoan

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the forum remains open to all political parties. But those that were absent from the inaugural meeting needed to get Hun Sen’s approval.

Regarding the move to give party leaders advisory positions within the government, Siphan said it was an honour which gave them a platform to meet voters and supporters, but not necessarily fill permanent roles.

“Titles of ‘adviser to the government’ are not government positions. They are just titles that help them promote their party’s policies,” he said.

Weighing in on the Consultation Forum, political analyst Meas Nee said that, despite controlling many seats in the National Assembly, most of the advice dispensed by the court dissolved CNRP was shot down by the CPP.

“What is their [opposition party leaders’] ability after the government gives them opportunities? If it is strictly limited, what will happen when they work with the relevant ministries?"

“Will they listen? They did not do so in the past. They wouldn’t even listen to an elected party in the National Assembly,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • Call for boycott of Angkor unacceptable

    Dear Editor, I wish to express my strong disagreement on the article published by Traveller for their website with the title Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid. Below is my opinion of the article. It is obviously free for the Traveller to

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Gov’t slams UN rapporteurs over Sokha trial statement

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN Office in Geneva deplored the statement of three UN special rapporteurs who claimed that Kem Sokha’s trial was “tainted” due to irregularities. The reaction

  • No power shortages next dry season, says energy minister

    Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has assured the public that Cambodia will not suffer power shortages during the next dry season. Speaking on local TV on Tuesday, Sem projected a rise in power demand during 2020’s dry season – which starts in November and

  • Gov’t takes steps to lower logistics, transport costs

    With the threat of losing trade privileges in the EU drawing closer, the government is taking measures to reduce logistics and transportation costs to safeguard the Kingdom’s competitiveness. The EU is due to decide whether or not to withdraw the Kingdom’s trade privileges