Opposition Party and Civil Society Organization Criticize the Senate for Not Fulfilling Its Obligation according to the Constitution – Tuesday, 24.3.2009

Posted on 25 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“Responding to the recent 10th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Khmer Senate, opposition party and civil society organizations called on this supreme law institution to conduct reforms, and they criticized this institution for not fulfilling its obligation according to the Constitution, but it acts like a sewage pipe through which national resources flow out.

“During the 10th anniversary celebration of the Senate on Friday, the president of the Senate and president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Chea Sim, said that the Senate contributes to the political stability and development of the Kingdom of Cambodia since this legislative body was established on 25 March 1999.

“Chea Sim, who is known not to be very powerful both in the party and in the public, made a speech at that occasion, saying ‘In the period of 10 years since the creation of this body, the Senate has walked on an honorary way by doing different activities to help restore the country and to develop the nation in all sectors and the Senate has played an important role to integrate Cambodia into the region and into the world during this era of globalization.’

Note:

An Internet address to the Cambodian Embassy in the USA continues to carry, since ten years, since 1999 until now, a wrong version of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. We refer here to the obsolete version of the Constitution which the Cambodian Embassy in Washington continues to present to the US and the international public – in this document the Senate does not exist, and the description of the function of an Acting Head of State is wrong.

The Cambodian Embassy in the USA has also a second, newer address, with the amended version of the Constitution.

The Cambodia e-Government Homepage carries only the amended, new version of the Constitution, however with a different wording in the second part of Article 12.

We carry all three versions of this text. We leave it to our readers to consider what this says about the status of government administered websites, and about the role of the Senate.

Article 12: (Cambodian embassy in Washington – old, but still available)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Article 12 – New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodian embassy in Washington – amended version)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly Senate shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In the case that the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties of the acting Head of State as “Regent” in the place of the King on the death of the King the responsibilities of Head of State in the capacity of regent shall be exercised in conformity with the second and third paragraph of new Article 11.

Article 12- New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodia e-Government Homepage)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly Senate shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In the case that the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties of the acting Head of State as “Regent” in the place of the King on the death of the King the responsibilities of Head of State in the capacity of regent shall be exercised in conformity with the second and third paragraph of new Article 11.

Additional information:

Article 11- New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodia e-Government Homepage)

In the case that the King cannot perform His normal duties as Head of State owing to His serious illness as certified by doctors chosen by the President of the Senate, the President of the Assembly and the Prime Minister the President of the Assembly and Senate shall perform the duties of Head of state as “Regent”

In the case of the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties as the acting Head of State replacing the King as “Regent” when he is ill seriously as provided in the above paragraph the President of Assembly shall take them over.

In the case as stated in the above paragraph, other dignitaries as following hierarchy can perform Acting Head of State as Regent:

A.First Vice-President of the Senate

B.First Vice-President of the Assembly

C.Second Vice-President of the Senate

D.Second Vice-President of the Assembly

“While Article 12 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states that the Senate has the obligation to coordinate between the National Assembly and the government, opposition party, and civil society organizations criticized that the Senate with 61 members does not fulfill its task following the constitution.

Note:

Actually, Article 12 of the Constitution does not deal with the obligations mentioned here in the press at all – see the texts quoted above. The function of THE SENATE is described in Articles 99 to 115 in Chapter VIII, and in Article 116 and 117 in THE ASSEMBLY AND THE SENATE in Chapter IX of the Constitution. We bring the full texts of these articles, as the discussion in the press is not referring to the actual texts in the Constitution.

CHAPTER VIII: THE SENATE
Article 99 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate is a body that has legislative power and performs its duties as determined in the constitution and law.

The Senate consists of members the number of which does not exceed half of all of the members of the Assembly.

Some Senators shall be nominated and some shall be elected universally.

A Senator can be re-nominated and reelected.

Article 100 – New (As amended March 1999):

The king shall nominate two Senators.

The Assembly shall elect two Senators by majority Vote.

Others shall be universally elected.

Article 101 – New (As amended March 1999):

The organization and operating procedures concerning the nomination and election of the Senators and the determination of the electors, election organization and electoral constituencies shall be determined by law.

Article 102 – New (As amended March 1999):

The term for Senators is six years and this term shall expire upon replacement by new Senators.

When the election of the Senator cannot be conducted due to war and special circumstances, the Senate can continue its term year by year upon the proposal of the King.

The declaration of continuity of its term shall be decided by at least a two-third majority of all members of the senate.

In the circumstance described above the Senate shall assemble everyday. The Senate has the right to terminate the above situation with good reason.

If the Senate cannot assemble due to the invasion of foreign troops the proclamation of the state of emergency shall be continuously in effect automatically.

Article 103 – New (As amended March 1999):

The mandate of senators shall be incompatible with the holding of any active public function, with the functions of members of the National Assembly, and of any membership in other institutions provided for in the constitution.

Article 104 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senator shall enjoy parliamentary immunity.

No Senator shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed during the exercise of his or her duties.

The accusation, arrest, or detention of a senator shall be made only with the permission of the Senate or by the Standing Committee of the Senate between sessions, except in the case of flagrant delicto. In that case the competent authority shall immediately report to the senate or to the Standing Committee for decision.

The decision made by the Standing Committee of the Senate shall be submitted to the Senate at its session for approval by a two-thirds majority vote of all senators. In any case, detention or prosecution of a Senator shall be suspended by a three-quarters majority vote of all senators.

Article 105 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall have an autonomous budget to conduct its functions.

Senators shall receive remuneration.

Article 106 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall hold its first session no later than sixty days after the election upon notice by the King.

Before taking office, the Senate shall decide on the validity of each member’s mandate and vote separately to choose a president, Vice president and its members of each commission by a two- third majority vote.

All Senators must take the oath before taking office according to the text contained in annex 7.

Article 107 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall hold its ordinary sessions twice a year. Each session shall last at least three months. If there is a proposal from the king or the prime Minister, or at least one-third of the senate, the Senate standing Committee shall call an extraordinary session of the Senate.

Article 108 – New (As amended March 1999):

Between the senate sessions, the Senate Standing Committee shall mange the work of the Senate.

The permanent Standing Committee of the Senate consists of the President of the Senate and the Vice- presidents and the Presidents of the senate commissions.

Article 109 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate sessions shall be held in the Royal capital of Cambodia in the Senate Hall, unless stipulated otherwise in the summons, owing to special circumstances.

Except where so stipulated and unless held at the place and date as stipulated any meeting of the Senate shall be considered as illegal and void.

Article 110 – New (As amended March 1999):

The president of the Senate shall chair the Senate sessions, receive draft bill and resolutions adopted by the senate, ensure the implementation of the internal rules of procedure and manage the senate’s relations with foreign countries.

If the President is unable to perform his duties owing to illness or to fulfill the functions of Head of State as interim or as Regent, or is on a mission abroad, a Vice President shall replace him.

In case of resignation or death of the president or Vice Presidents, the Assembly shall elect a new President or Vice Presidents.

Article 111 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate sessions shall be held in public.

The Senate shall meet in closed session at the request of the President or of at least one-tenths of its members, of the King or of the Prime Minister or the President of Assembly.

The Senate meeting shall be considered as valid provided there is a quorum of seven-tenths of all members.

The numbers of votes which are required for the Assembly approval as provided for in the constitution shall be applied to the Senate as well.

Article 112 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate has the duties to coordinate the work between the Assembly and the Government.

Article 113 – New (As amended March 1999):

The senate shall examine and give a recommendation to a draft or proposed law that was firstly adopted by the Assembly and other matters that the Assembly submitted within no more than one month. If it is an emergency case that duration shall be reduced to seven days.

If the Senate approves, or disapproves but not within the time limit stipulated above, the law adopted by the Assembly shall be promulgated.

If the Senate calls for the modification of the draft and the proposed law the Assembly shall take that draft and that proposed law into account a second time immediately. The Assembly shall examine and decide whether to eliminate all or some of the provisions or any terms that the Senate calls for so doing.

The exchange of the draft or the proposed law between the Senate and the Assembly shall be done only within one month. This duration shall be reduced to ten days if it is the case of national budget or finance and the duration shall be reduced to only two days if it is an urgent case.

If the Assembly withholds for longer than the time stipulated or delays while inspecting the law the principle duration for the Assembly and the Senate shall be extended so that the time duration for both are equal.

If the Senate rejects the draft or the proposed law this draft or proposed law cannot be reviewed a second time by the Assembly before one-month duration. This duration shall be reduced to fifteen days in the case of the national budget and finance cases and to four days if it is an urgent case.

In the examination of the draft and the proposed law a second time the Assembly shall adopt same by open vote with an absolute majority.

The draft or the proposed laws adopted by the above method shall then be sent for promulgation.

Article 114 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall establish necessary commissions. The organizing and the functioning of the Senate shall be provided for in the Internal Rules of the Senate. These internal rules shall be approved by a two-third majority vote of all senators.

Article 115 – New (As amended March 1999):

In the case of a senator dying, resigning, or breaching the rules of membership of the senate, within at least six months before expiration of the term, the vacancy shall be filled by a person appointed or elected according to the procedures stipulated in the internal rules of the Senate and the law on the election and nomination of senators.

CHAPTER IX: THE ASSEMBLY AND THE SENATE

Article 116 – New (As amended March 1999):

In the special case, the Assembly and the Senate can assemble as the congress to resolve the important issues of the nation.

Article 117 – New (As amended March 1999):

The national issues mentioned above in new article 116 and the organizing and functioning of the congress shall be determined by Law.

“The president of the biggest opposition party in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, said, ‘For 10 years, the Senate does not show that it is necessary in whatever way at all. The Senate just spends huge amounts of money wastefully.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy added, ‘The Senate is defined as a legislative body in the Constitution, but the implementation of its role to serve special interests is a different thing.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy stated in 2008 that the Senate spent nearly Riel 2,800 million, corresponding to US$7.07 million, for the salaries of senators and for other expenses. Also, Mr. Sam Rainsy criticized the election procedure for the Senate, which is not a general election, but it allows only commune councilors to elect members of the Senate, which is not a democratic procedure; he had asked that the election of the Senate should also be an election directly involving the general people.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘The current Senate was elected in 2006 by commune councilors from 2002, but since 2002 and up to 2009, much has changed.’

“Political observers in Cambodia said that the Senate itself was created with problems from the beginning, because this supreme body was established as a political deal after the parliamentary elections in 1998. At that time, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was the president of Funcinpec, was offered the position of president of the National Assembly as an award for him for leading Funcinpec to join the coalition government with the Cambodian People’s Party, which led to the creation of the Senate as power basis for the Cambodian People’s Party’s president Chea Sim, who has led the Senate since 1999.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy went on to say, ‘Ten years ago, the Senate was created from political opportunism, to create a position for Chea Sim.’ He continued to say that everyone knows since the beginning that the Senate is not useful at all, and since the time it was created, the Senate shows that it is really not useful for the nation.’

“The president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Mr. Ou Vireak, expressed the same opinion as Mr. Sam Rainsy, and he agreed that the creation of the Senate from the beginning was for the provision of power and a role for the Cambodian People’s Party, and Funcinpec was just a tool, resulting from mixing different factors, and it does not serve the interests for the nation.

“Mr. Ou Vireak added that even though the Senate checks laws adopted by the National Assembly and other laws to guarantee the contents of those laws [that they are constitutional], this legislative body shows also that its power to change and to edit laws is limited.

“Mr. Ou Vireak said, ‘Senators are just like readers of the laws adopted by the National Assembly.’ He went on to say that for 10 years, the Senate sent only two laws back to the National Assembly to be checked again, but even then the second body cared only about some word used, but not about the contents of those laws.

“Political observers criticized that the Senate lacks the power to make itself a body that works with authority to recheck laws, and so the Senate is now not different from other institutions that only serve as political power for the Cambodian People’s Party. Unlike in other democratic nations, Cambodian senators are elected to represent their parties and they depend on the support from their parties.

“The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Ouen, said, ‘If a senator or a parliamentarian is dismissed or resigns from a party, that senator or parliamentarian’s seat will be also be lost [but it is to be filled by the party].’ Such a situation shows that the political parties controls the National Assembly and the Senate.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1719, 24.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #44, 24.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy: The Cambodian People’s Party Does Not Collect Land Taxes from Citizens, but Grabs Land All of a Sudden

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1905, 24.3.2009

  • [Minister of Defense] Tea Banh: Soldiers’ Salaries Are Late because Document Preparation [for salaries to the Ministry of Economic and Finance] Has Not Yet Been Done [he apologized to the soldiers for this lateness and promised their salaries will be released in this March]
  • Indonesia Sends a Navy Ship to the Somali Gulf
  • A Plane Crashed in the US State of Montana and Killed 17 People

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6610, 24.3.2009

  • Khmer Artifacts Are Borrowed for Nine Exhibitions in Japan

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1719, 24.3.2009

  • Opposition Party and Civil Society Organization Criticize the Senate for Not Fulfilling Its Obligation according to the Constitution

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4853, 24.3.2009

  • The Prime Minister Dismisses Report about Political Hazard in Cambodia [by the Intelligence Unit based in England that put Cambodia among countries with political instability such as Sudan, Zimbabwe, Chad, and Angola]
  • Samdech Dekchor: “Budget [for health sector] Must Not Be Reduced in Spite of the Global Financial Crisis”
  • Two Groups of [nine] Robbers Who Conducted Almost 10 Robberies Surprising Kandal Are Arrested
  • Two Houses Which Store and Produce Drugs in Russey Keo District Are Cracked Down [two Chinese nationals and four Khmers are arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia and America Will Continue to Search for Relics of US Soldiers Lost during the Vietnam War

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1680, 24.3.2009

  • An Economic Intelligence Unit Said that Cambodian Economy for 2009-2010 Will Plummet under 1% [while Cambodia expects 6% economic growth in 2009]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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