National Assembly President Heng Samrin suspended a request from a CNRP lawmaker to question the minister of mines and energy and the minister of labour, saying no such requests would be forwarded until the opposition had shown it was ready to “work together”, a spokesman said yesterday.
National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long said Samrin last week received a request from Cambodia National Rescue Party chief whip Son Chhay to call Mines Minister Suy Sem and Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng to the assembly for questioning, but the requests were suspended.
Under the constitution, lawmakers have the right to call on ministers to respond to questions about their work, but a previous CNRP plan to summon three ministers was quashed in February by Prime Minister Hun Sen at a time of heightened political tensions. The premier said at the time that the summonses would not be honoured because the opposition had not “respected the law” by boycotting a parliamentary vote stripping the party of its official minority status.
Peng Long’s explanation for the suspension yesterday followed similar lines, with the spokesman saying it had been communicated that such requests would not be forwarded until the CNRP shows a “real willingness” to come to the assembly in a “spirit” of dialogue.
“That’s the position of the National Assembly president and Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said, without explaining the legal basis for suspending the constitutionally protected right. “We suspended the procedure until we discover that the CNRP has a real willingness to have a dialogue . . . [If] both parties agree to work together . . . we will think [about it].”
Chhay couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.
Late last month, Chhay said he had planned to summon Suy Sem for questioning in parliament after he failed to respond to his inquiries in writing regarding the export of silica sand. He also said he would summon Ith Sam Heng over issues related to migrant workers in Thailand.