As an honorary professor I would like to share with you some of my advice to the graduates and sophomores who are also here today. Not long ago we have amended the Constitution to change the leadership for the National Assembly, the Senate and the Royal Government from the two-third majority to 50 + 1 formula. It is indeed not a bad thing to have a two-third majority decision power only it is used in a positive purpose. Cambodia’s two-third majority has been unique in a democratic system and it has adopted by some of the countries for the sake of political stability. The 50 + 1 system is the second system, while comparative system is the third system which has been used in Canada, where only the support of 36% enables a political party to set up a Government.
The 50 + 1 system is used in Germany, where the elections brought about one or two seats different between the two parties and put the HE Chancellor Angela Merkel and the former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in difficult position. Later, the two parties united in forming the Government. This clearly shows that the system, which ever one is used, is not the main issue. The issue is political will of each political party with seats in the parliament. After the existence of the Constitution in 1993, Cambodia had been caught in two crises already – once on November 30, 1998 and again a protracted deadlock on July 27, 2003. If we were to count from the period under the electoral campaign, it was in all over one year.
The party with the majority support has become a hostage to the party with a minority support and this must be recorded and prevented from a repetition of the history. What should be given importance is the fact that it is the majority of the voters that were hostages to the minority of politicians in the National Assembly. How ashamed this had been when our people went out in all weather conditions to exercise their rights from their part only to see that the formation of the Royal Government according to the voters’ will was stuck. I should probably recall for a better understanding of the situation that when the informal result of the election was out on 29 of July, there was a request for a formation of a provisional Government under a neutral Prime Minister. It was not written anywhere at all in the Constitution.
It was in Sak Sampeo of Kandal province that I declared that the move was unconstitutional and I would do anything in my power to guarantee that the Constitution is protected. Cambodia is a multi-party country, who could a neutral be? It was purely an attempt to overthrow. There move after that was to accept any form of Government but without Hun Sen. Prior to that the Cambodian People’s Party issued a policy with eleven points, and one of the points was to nominate Hun Sen as the Party’s candidate for the post of Prime Minister and so did all other parties for nominating their candidates for the same position. Why did they violate the voters’s will by urging for a dismissal of Hun Sen?
At that time there was this people power in Georgia to overthrow HE Eduard Shewardnadze from the position of President and they declared that their example will be followed. I told them back that I would also use the people power against them too – and it would be a tremendous amount number of people. I would not use the police or military police but the people power too, so to speak. There had been a great number of unrealistic and unreasonable demands, and it has become a bad political attitude. In Cambodia we have a stand-by Government and it will control the country’s situation until the new Government comes in to take over. There leaves no room for a provisional Government.
We also have to take precaution in relation to the article 125 of the Constitution on a definite vacancy of the post of Prime Minister – a new cabinet will have to be convened, while once in a while the absence of the Prime Minister allows for the appointment of an acting Prime Minister. If I were to leave the position definitely, the whole Cabinet would be dissolved and a new Cabinet would have to seek a two-third majority for an approval, the hard-to-get approval because of the two-third majority system would bring about turbulence in the country’s politics. It was written that in the above scenario, the elected party would propose a candidate to the King for approval as Prime Minister, and the new Prime Minister would have to form a new Cabinet for an approval from the National Assembly – it is a precarious condition.
It should be simple as the elected one would have to rule the country. From today on no one could bargain for power. As far as what happen in 1998 and 2003, the Cambodian People’s Party, with its political platform in place, invited them to join us and revealed to those parties positions that it reserved for them. CPP won 53% in 1998 and 60% in 2003, but finally it has become a victim and I had been the object of dismissal. They declared dismissing the stand-by Government in three months, and then in 6 months, but only a few months after their declarations the treasury recorded a ten time increase in cash. Some people get themselves prepared for a re-election in the belief that there would be money sponsored by the European Union.
As I said many times this is the move to alter the constitutional approval of leadership and not the change in the CPP-Funcinpec alliance in the coalition Government. As you can see that we changed only the system of co-ministers in Defense and in Interior, as the rest has been left untouched. In general the Cambodian Constitutional has been a well balanced one in terms of power sharing. In Thailand, the Constitutional problem arises recently after the election on April 2, whereas in Nepal, the King who seized power to dissolve the parliament, arrest and jail the Prime Minister, and take over power by himself, has now re-instated its parliament which would then proceed to rewriting the Constitution to scrap that kind of power from the King.
In Cambodia, the Parliament would be functioning for five years, while being subjected to dissolving in case that it dissolves the Cabinet twice in twelve months. This means that if the National Assembly dissolves the Government twice in twelve months, the National Assembly will dissolves itself – that is where I call a balance. I hope that thanks to changes in the Constitutional approval from two-third majority to 50 + 1 system Cambodia would not be affected by political deadlock anymore. Cambodia is now in its stage of political maturity and this kind of thing can be solved.
What I wanted to say as a second contribution to you all is issue of a party quota in the civil administration and the armed forces. On March 2, after the consultative meeting in Phnom Penh, I declared an end to the political party quota system. If we were to continue to uphold the quota system, there is no need for opening this kind of schooling – Royal School of Administration, whereas an end also needs to be put on schools for police officers and army officers – they should also be closed down. In our neighboring countries, take for instance Thailand, the civil administration and the armed forces have been completely neutral and they were not subjected to changes according to their political parties affiliations. Changes would be done only at political level –from the rank of under secretary of state upwards. The same is done in police as well as in military.
Our option now is to exercise no party quota in public functionaries and there would be no chance for those who make their contributions to the parties so as to get to the top jobs, irrespective of those who have spend their time doing their hard works in studying here. We would not see this kind of situation anymore in 2008. We did not allow the Buddhist monks to exercise their rights to vote because of political instability. Now that the stability has prevailed, the Buddhist monks could exercise this right. What remains to be done is that those in position have to fulfill their duties in complete neutrality in their functions. We should be of the opinion that we are not only for our generation, but for generations to come./.