Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested the Senate to convene an extraordinary meeting to review the draft law that aims to put the Kingdom in a state of emergency after the bill reached the National Assembly (NA) on Friday.
The draft law, which was approved by the Council of Ministers’ Standing Committee chaired by Hun Sen on Tuesday, is likely to be passed by the NA this week. The Senate will then need five days to review and approve the bill, its spokesperson said.
In his letter to Senate president Say Chhum on Friday, Hun Sen said: “The government is in urgent need of this law to govern the country in a state of emergency.”
Senate spokesman Mam Bunneang said: “The Senate can call a meeting only after the draft law is adopted by the NA.
“On Monday, the NA will send the bill to its Standing Committee for review. After deliberation and approval, the NA president will send it to the Senate.
“We have to wait for the NA before we can fix a date for the [extraordinary] meeting.”
NA spokesman Leng Peng Long on Sunday confirmed receipt of the draft law. He said: “This law is urgent so we will proceed accordingly. We will submit it to the NA’s Standing Committee and wait for its decision.”
However, Peng Long said the NA had not determined a specific date for its plenary session to adopt the law.
Consisting of five chapters and 11 articles, the draft law stipulates a maximum 10-year imprisonment for anyone caught breaking it.
The bill sets out formalities, procedures and terms for a declaration of a state of emergency if the country faces danger.
It aims to maintain national security and public order, lives and health of the people, properties and the environment.
It remains to be seen how the NA would convene a plenary session to deliberate the draft law as the Kingdom grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has recorded 114 infections since January.
Last week, the NA said it will postpone all unnecessary meetings in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Speaking to The Post on Thursday, Peng Long declined to elaborate on how the NA will discuss the bill, saying only that a session through video conferencing is not allowed under Cambodian law.
It was also unclear on Sunday as to what extent the state of emergency law will be implemented, with no new Covid-19 cases reported as of Sunday, while patient recoveries have risen to 50.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
In a voice message sent out to officials via Telegram on Saturday night, Hun Sen said nearly 60,000 migrants had flocked home after Thailand shut its border to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Predicting that more will return, he has instructed the health authorities and officers along the border to prepare mosquito nets, blankets and mats for the migrants who will be placed under quarantine.
Hun Sen noted that the Ministry of Health had found no case of infections among migrants who had already scattered across the Kingdom.
“Nearly 60,000 [migrants] who have returned have not caused any harm to the public health in their communities.
“This is thanks to the good management of our people, and I would like to congratulate our local and national authorities who have done so well in disseminating information and in helping us manage the situation,” he said.
Hun Sen also took issue with foreign media outlets and those critical of the Kingdom’s health system. He said the criticism was made despite infection cases in those countries reaching alarming levels.