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Praise and brickbats for Cambodian Constitution

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Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia has consistently implemented every principle of modern democracy provided in the Constitution, including the principles of rights and freedoms, free and fair elections, division of power and the rule of law. Hean Rangsey

Praise and brickbats for Cambodian Constitution

Prime Minister Hun Sen celebrated the 27th anniversary of the establishment of the county’s Constitution on Thursday, calling it a historical document that ended a crisis in Cambodia and marked a turning point in national unity.

Hun Sen wrote on Facebook that Cambodia’s Constitution was spurred by the 1991 Paris Peace accords and changed The Kingdom into a new country with political solutions and elections.

The prime minister said the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk signed a royal Kram on September 24, 1993, promulgating the Constitution.

Because the Constitution is the supreme law of Cambodia, laws and resolutions of State institutions must be brought in line with the Constitution, he said.

Some main points stipulated clearly in the Constitution are absolute respect for the constitutional monarchy and multi-party liberal democracy.

He said Cambodia’s Constitution also stipulates the principle of the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary.

National Assembly president Heng Samrin wrote in a Facebook post that he regarded the Constitution as the basis of political stability, and legal and institutional frameworks.

It made Cambodia what it is today. Cambodia has enjoyed full peace as a State with stability, prosperity and progress, he wrote.

“In this sense, let us continue to respect, protect and apply the Constitution with the aim of building and promoting the rule of law. The rule of law is peace, development and prosperity forever,” the post read.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said Cambodia’s Constitution is based on modern values and Khmer values.

He said Cambodia has consistently implemented every principle of modern democracy provided in the Constitution, including the principles of rights and freedoms, free and fair elections, division of power and the rule of law.

Still, some worry that the Constitution hasn’t been implemented appropriately.

The UN Office in Cambodia posted on Facebook: “As Cambodia celebrates its Constitution Day, the UN encourages Cambodia to uphold and respect human rights enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of human rights, international treaties and liberal multi-party democracy as recognised and stipulated in its Constitution.”

Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Ou Chanrath told The Post on Thursday that since 1993, the Constitution has been amended to coordinate political matters and serve political interests. It doesn’t serve the interests of the people very much, he said.

“We haven’t implemented very many points about rights and freedoms. There are still social injustices in Cambodia. The rights and freedoms that were protected by the Constitution have yet to be enjoyed fully,” he said.

Democratic Institute president Pa Chanroeun said democratic and political processes, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia seem to have tumbled.

“It is time that citizens must again check the quality and effectiveness of respecting and following the Constitution.

“Citizens have to demand lawmakers respect the Constitution in the interest of national society. Citizens have the power. Lawmakers represent them and implement the law. So do the courts,” he said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said 27 years of the Constitution has hardly any meaning.

He said there is virtually no respect for the civil rights it has guaranteed, no separation of powers and no independent judiciary to protect those rights. All institutions of democracy and the rule of law are virtually dysfunctional, he said.

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