Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM to form multiparty forum

PM to form multiparty forum

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former opposition leader Kem Sokha (left) speaks to Hun Sen at a session at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh in 2016. afp

PM to form multiparty forum

Caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said he plans to invite leaders from opposition political parties to form a “Consultation Forum” that would serve to discuss national issues and appoint advisers at government ministries.

The move was received positively by party leaders from both the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) and the Khmer Will Party (KWP), though both stopped short of promising their participation in the program.

Speaking to garment workers in the capital’s Sen Sok district, Hun Sen noted that 19 other parties besides his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) participated in the July 29 national polls, and so had an intention to develop the country.

He promised the Consultation Forum would give them a platform to express opinions on policy, despite the fact that none had gotten enough votes to contest a seat in the National Assembly.

“Regardless how many parties there are in the National Assembly, I want to create a Consultation Forum between the government and parties that participated in the election. This will be a new forum for the 6th government mandate.

“I want this forum to be created as an informal consultation group, which allows political parties to provide input to the government and take part in national developments. They can share their parties’ politics, so they can get support for the next term. It benefits everybody,” he said.

Hun Sen said if the parties do not have seats in the Assembly, it would be impossible to have “political livelihood” there.

“I will not invite all the parties as that would be impossible. I will invite only those that participated in the election, which means I will meet them as prime minister, not CPP president. I will invite all political parties to the Peace Palace. We will discuss together,” he said.

Giving an example that seemed to refer to policies of the GDP, Hun Sen said the group could discuss ways to make raising livestock in the country easier, such as producing feed locally and promoting organic farming methods.

He also promised to give the opposing parties a chance to comment on draft laws and monitor policy implementation in the government.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

“I want everybody to contribute. If required, we can invite the president or leader of each party to come in as advisers to the ministry in the area in which they specialise,” Hun Sen said.

Commenting on his announcement, GDP leader Yang Saing Koma said the move was nearly identical to his party’s proposal for a National Development Council, which would take input from all parties.

“We welcome dialogue based on honesty and respect for each other’s values and maintaining national unity in the multi-party society,” he told The Post.

Saing Koma, who had previously worked with civil society organisation Cedac, which promotes agricultural development, said he didn’t have any interest in accepting an adviser’s position in the new government.

“I would not be interested in any position at the ministry, but I will continue to promote the practice of good policies in the GDP, especially those that support the farmers’ rights to water, equity, and markets, as well as policies that promote food safety and health services,” he said.

However, Kong Monika, the president of the Khmer Will Party (KWP) and son of former top advisor for the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has expressed his intention to support the Consultation Forum.

“The KWP believes that the ruling party’s initiative to create the Consultation Forum and the culture of dialogue between political parties inside and outside the National Assembly is a valuable opportunity to serve more than 80 per cent of the voters,” he said, referring to general election’s voter turnout.

But Monika was also sceptical of being brought into the fold of the government as an adviser. “The invitation for presidents of the political parties to join as advisers . . . it’s just the government’s point of view,” he said.

Election expert Yoeurng Sotheara said the executive branch has the power to recruit any person, regardless of his political beliefs or party membership.

“Any person regardless of his political beliefs should be given opportunities to work in the office of the government.

“In the legislature (Members of Parliament) it is not the same as the law requires that they be elected and members of political parties [that] participated in the election,” he said.

Analyst Lao Mong Hay told The Post: “Regarding our prime minister’s call to all other parties to join the forum and to serve as advisers to different ministries … it is a move to make the post-July 29 government more representative of different political tendencies in order to enhance its legitimacy.

“How far and how much it will succeed [or achieve] is debatable ad infinitum.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro