Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM invites forum members to focus on ‘past problems’

PM invites forum members to focus on ‘past problems’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hun Sen presides over the inaugural meeting of the Consultation Forum on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

PM invites forum members to focus on ‘past problems’

Sixteen of the 20 parties that took part in the July 29 national election were represented on Tuesday at the inaugural meeting of the “Consultation Forum” – a committee formed by prime minister-designate Hun Sen as a step towards a “culture of dialogue”.

It was additionally announced that the presidents of each party would become advisers to the government.

Senior members of the 16 parties assembled at the capital’s Peace Palace on Tuesday to meet with the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), that swept all 125 seats in the National Assembly, marking the only time in modern Cambodia’s history that a single party has controlled parliament.

Four parties – the Grassroots Democratic Party, the League for Democracy Party, the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party and the Our Motherland Party – decided not to attend the session.

Speaking at the opening of the forum, Hun Sen, who is also CPP president, said the 20 parties that participated in the election had a “willingness to contribute to the development of the country”.

“I invite all political parties here not to endorse the policies of the CPP . . . Don’t simply look forward – you can also look back to see what the problems are, even with recent policies regarding social issues,” he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said on Tuesday that the role of the forum was to provide opinion on government policies, provide feedback on draft laws and advise the prime minister on inaction or violations by government officials.

It was said the participants would meet once a month, presided by the council chairman, and with the prime minister once every six months.

A royal decree is to legitimise the committee, which can only be terminated by a government mandate.

Chhim Phal Vorun, a personal adviser to Hun Sen, told reporters that each party that was represented attended the meeting voluntarily, and would send two delegates to the talks. They will receive a salary from the national budget.

He said the parties that chose not to attend the inaugural meeting still had a chance to be a part of the committee.

“The parties’ participation is based on a voluntary principle. They are not forced to attend. If any party followed their internal policies and decided to not participate, we will have no objections. However, they have to do it voluntarily.

“Regarding [absent] parties, they can still participate with the prime minister’s approval,” he said.

Among the 16 parties that attended the forum on Tuesday was the Khmer Republican Party led by Lon Rith, the son of the Kingdom’s 1970s US-backed leader Lon Nol.

However, Rith did not confirm his party’s stance on the Consultation Forum.

Vorun said he could not provide a specific date when the royal decree establishing the group would be issued.

Toasting champagne with Hun Sen at around 2pm, many party leaders expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the forum.

Cambodian Youth Party president Pich Sros told The Post that he strongly supported the opportunity to take part in the development of the country.

“We want the country to prosper. We used our right as politicians to criticise, but they did not listen. Now the Prime Minister gives us the right to report to him when we see shortcomings.

“I think it is an opportunity because I organised a political party. Ultimately I want to contribute to the development of Cambodia, especially to eliminate oppression, corruption, political discrimination, and eliminate the tycoons grabbing land from innocent people,” Sros said.

Sros’ sentiments were echoed by Khmer Will Party leader Kong Monika, and Noun Sokhavy from the New Light Party. Sokhavy said he is willing to walk away from the group if his will isn’t respected.

“The government provided us with the privilege to watch over any officer. We will [report] to the government to act in accordance with the law. We all follow the laws, so all of us will be okay.

“There is no problem. I think during this mandate, people will have more justice because 16 political parties will reflect that justice for all the people in the country,” Sokhavy said.

Monika added: “It is a new opportunity for all political parties that participated in the elections to reflect the will of the people, especially their supporters.”

Analysts have speculated how much sway the Consultation Forum will hold in policy decisions. The move to create the committee comes amid criticisms of the national polls by Western leaders and praise from Asian ones.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,