How utterly unsurprised I was to read that the Prime Minister has banned (or postponed)
the introduction into commerce of new mobile phone technology (Post, June 2, 2006).
I was disappointed, though, to see no one in the article comment on the undeniable
illegality of the government's action. The Constitution, Cambodia's so-called supreme
law, provides in Articles 51, 90, and 99 that only the legislative branch - the National
Assembly and Senate - has the power to legislate (ie, to make law). As any lawyer
from any legal system (eg, common law, civil law) knows, the very essence of legislative
power is the power to declare something illegal or subject to penalty.
Does the Prime Minister have every right to subscribe to the view that Cambodia and
her people are not ready for 3G phones? Of course. But as the leader of the Royal
Government, the Prime Minister does not have the constitutional authority to impose
an outright ban or otherwise decree that commercial introduction of these phones
shall be delayed even by one day. The legislative branch alone has that power.
Make no mistake, if this matter - whether to permit the sale and use of 3G phones
in Cambodia - were to be put before the National Assembly (and Senate) as it should
be, those esteemed lawmaking bodies undoubtedly would abide by the Prime Minister's
wishes and impose a ban on morality grounds.
But the legislative branch's historical role as a rubber stamp is not the issue here.
The government's continued disregard for the Constitution, and the distinct roles
that it spells out for the various branches of government, is.
Ira Dassa - Maryland, USA