Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawmakers’ firing irks US

Lawmakers’ firing irks US

Lawmakers’ firing irks US

After three days of silence from Cambodia’s biggest governance donors over the firing of all 27 opposition lawmakers, the US late Saturday night became the first to publicly comment on what had transpired, condemning the move and calling for the legislators’ reinstatement.

“The United States is deeply concerned by reports that the Permanent Committee of the Cambodian National Assembly, made up entirely of members of the ruling party, has expelled opposition lawmakers from the National Assembly,” reads the statement by US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

On Wednesday, the 12-member committee voted to strip the posts of 29 parliamentarians from the Sam Rainsy Party, Human Rights Party and now-defunct Norodom Ranariddh Party, claiming they had broken the law by joining new parties. All 29 lawmakers had been absorbed into other parties earlier this year following mergers of both the royalist and opposition parties.

Legal analysts have denounced the firings, calling them a breech of the “spirit” of the law, while the opposition party has said the move effectively nullifies the National Assembly – which requires at least 120 members as per the constitution.
In an email sent yesterday, UN special rapporteur Surya Subedi said he too was concerned by the development.

“The move coming so close to the elections to the National Assembly is not helpful ... There should be a level playing field for all political parties to compete in the elections. Cambodian democracy would be weaker without an effective opposition in the National Assembly.”

The US appears to agree, noting that: “such a decision starkly contradicts the spirit of a healthy democratic process.”

“Stripping the salaries and parliamentary status of opposition party legislators deprives the Cambodian people of their voice and hurts the democratic process in Cambodia,” the statement continued.

Repeated requests for comment from Australia, France and the EU have gone unanswered. The countries are among Cambodia’s biggest governance development partners, and have sunk millions of dollars over the past two decades into improving Cambodia’s democratic institutions.

From 2009 until now, the US government alone has disbursed more than $50 million in funds earmarked for democracy, human rights and governance, according to State Department data.

Asked whether the US would consider suspending aid if the lawmakers are not reinstated, embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh, said it was “the wrong question”.

“The focus here is on the democratic process and the action taken by the National Assembly ruling majority does not help the process,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • All Covid restrictions for inbound travellers lifted

    Cambodia has apparently taken the final step towards full reopening of the country without Covid-19 restrictions by removing all requirements for inbound travellers, who until now had to show health certificates indicating that they have tested Covid-19 negative in the past 72 hours as well as

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Thai Senate delegates in Cambodia to discuss anti-graft co-op

    A delegation from Thailand's Senate was in Phnom Penh on September 28 to meet their Cambodian counterparts to discuss strategies for fighting corruption and enhancing cooperation. The Thai delegates were from its Senate’s Committee on Studying and Inspecting Corruption, Misconduct and Strengthening Good Governance. They

  • Mushrooming borey projects and home financing – a cause for concern?

    A spurt in housing developments is typically a sign of a growing economy but underneath all that might lay some anxiety of credit growth as developers offer financing to buyers at higher rates, an activity the central bank identifies as ‘shadow banking’ Earlier this year,

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement