Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New National Assembly set for $470,000 fête

New National Assembly set for $470,000 fête

New National Assembly set for $470,000 fête

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The new $30-million National Assembly building will be inaugurated in a July 7 opening

bash for which the government has budgeted nearly half a million dollars. CPP lawmaker

Cheam Yeap said the government plans to spend about $470,000 for the 7 am ceremony

and will invite 7,007 guests to what opposition MPs are calling an overly ostentacious

event..

Phnom Penh officials torch a pole of confiscated illegal drugs on June 26, destroying some 117,487 pills, 1,951 bottles of liquid drugs, bushels of marijuana, as well as assorted drug paraphenalia. Eleven high schools participated in the anti-drug event.

"Besides Angkor Wat that former Cambodian kings established, the State has never

established a huge mansion like this," said Yeap. "The new National Assembly

building will make history for the entire nation."

The new assembly building, begun in 2003, now spans 28,049 square meters and consists

of five main buildings-including two for parliamentarians' offices and one that will

serve as a restaurant. According to Yeap, the old building, which has been renovated

six times, is too old, and too small at only about 2,000 square meters.

He said the new National Assembly building is more than ten times bigger than its

predecessor which simply can't accommodate the 123 parliamentarians and more than

2,000 civil servants who work there. "The old one is too narrow-[we] just breathe

and then get infected by tuberculosis from each other," said Yeap.

Yim Sovann, SRP lawmaker, acknowledged that for comfort and efficiency a new building

was needed. But Sovann criticized what he called a non-public bidding process and

improper use of the national budget. He added the ceremony should not be ostentatious,

and if the government wanted to be known all over the world, they should simply televise

the opening.

"In the present situation our citizens are poor, so I think there's no need

to take $400,000 to organize the opening ceremony," said Sovann. "It is

better to take this money to help the welfare of the people"

He said the ceremony should be held on about 25 percent of what has been budgeted.

Yeap said July 7 was selected because it will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment

of the Cambodian National Assembly in 1947. The opening will be attended by King

Norodom Sihamoni and other legislative and executive officials and foreign officials.

Yeap said he invited five or six representatives from each province, as well as representatives

of ethnic minority groups.

"We've asked the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior and Phnom Penh

Municipality police to ensure the [events'] security because today the international

terrorists have spread all over the world, and secondly, the new National Assembly

is near the Naga Casino-and we do not know where people who come to play cards come

from," he said.

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