Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay has sent an amended version of his draft freedom-of-information law to the National Assembly this morning and urged the parliament to at least debate the legislation.
Son Chhay said yesterday his revised law had taken into account amendments requested by parliamentary committees after the assembly declined to even debate his last version of the bill, submitted in 2010.
“At least this should be looked at according to the procedures and be debated, not just rejected,” he said.
The 82 articles contained within the draft legislation are aimed at curtailing government corruption by creating legal and political institutions that ensure there are systems for the public to access government documents such as contracts.
“Even in parliament, they are catergorised as secret documents,” he said.
“Things are becoming clear in Cambodia that there is rampant corruption, so it is important that this law is adopted as soon as possible.”
Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said he had yet to receive a letter from Son Chhay urging the government to adopt the legislation but agreed the request was important.
“In Article 91 of Chapter 3 of the Constitution and the information law it states that all people have the right to receive information, but in practice this is still not improving yet,” he said.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that in broad terms, he supported the idea of legislation ensuring access to information but cautioned that such a law would have to balance different concerns such as the right to privacy and the public interest.
“Everyone has to understand that information is a public interest or public commodity,” he said.
“So everyone has an interest, but they have to have a mechanism to regulate that one – what is confidential and what is not.”