Here followed is the compiled and translated introductory statement of Samdech Techo Hun Sen to the first session of the fifth legislative term of the National Assembly and the press briefing thereafter.
National Assembly’s First Session Always Meets in September
Before I start reading for you (the Political Platform of the Royal Government of Cambodia of the Fifth Legislature of the National Assembly), please allow me to make some comments in the presence of everyone here. We are not hostages to any group. We have fulfilled our tasks and role in conformity with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Constitution defines that the first session of the National Assembly must convene within 60 days at the latest. This has become by law and a habit.
In general, the National Assembly (of the Kingdom of Cambodia) never opens its first session in November as some people said. We have maintained the routine (of convening the National Assembly first session in September) since after the Constitutional Assembly. In 1998 (when there was a political stalemate), the first National Assembly session also convened its session on 24 September in Siem Reap under the presidency of then HM the King Father, dues to unfavorable situation in Phnom Penh.
In 2003, the first session of the National Assembly also met on 24 September. For the fourth legislative term, in 2008, the first session of the National Assembly also met on September 24. For this fifth legislature, the first National Assembly session met yesterday – 23 September. As you can see, according to this chronology, the National Assembly (of the Kingdom of Cambodia) always convenes its first session in September. It has been according to the law and become a habit. Interpretations that the National Assembly’s first session could hold in November are illegal and not according to the habit.
National Assembly’s Doors Are Open
Secondly, they have made foul cry about what they called uni-party session (of the National Assembly) and the first session was therefore illegal. How could they said that when we are meeting under this very roof of the building of the National Assembly? Yesterday, no one locked up the building to prevent any elected members from other Party to join in the session. What are we to make of accusations that infringed upon HM the King, members of the National Assembly from the elected Party with the majority of support and presence of related national institutions – who, according to the Constitution, were there?
We all sat under this roof yesterday and went to take our oaths at the Royal Palace. Today, we also have one more session of taking-oath for members of the Cabinet. Are we illegal? Is HM the King wrong? Is the National Assembly wrong? They talked of uni-party in the National Assembly but they themselves walked away from it. Should we comply going to Siem Reap to take oath with them or should we go by the Constitution to do everything under this roof? The Constitution clearly stipulates that the National Assembly’s first session is to hold under the presidency of HM the King, in Phnom Penh, except only on special case.
It is also one issue to figure out in term of legality as no one has barred anyone from entering and taking part in the National Assembly’s first session. Diplomatic officials and representatives in Phnom Penh were also present. Have they all become wrong and illegal too? So, in short, no one obstruct anyone from joining the National Assembly’s session and no one is to be hostage of anyone. We have done everything in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
After the presentation of the Political Platform of the Royal Government of Cambodia of the Fifth Legislature of the National Assembly, Samdech Techo made selected press briefing in front of the National Assembly building.
HM the King Invited 55 CNRP Elected Members
Where have these 63 members (of the CNRP) come from? It is a legal question. The National Election Committee (NEC) announced that there are 55 elected members for CNRP and HM the king invited all 55 of them. The number of 63 does not exist. Did they think of setting up another government? They should not go beyond the legal framework. How could they make up and declared elsewhere another eight elected members? This is just a message. On this issue, anything they would do should be within the law.
Responding to the press about whether the Cambodian People’s Party would share leadership with the opposition party, should the latter put off their boycotts, or is the door closed, Samdech Techo went on:
Negotiations After They Take Oaths
I think we have not closed the doors. I must say though whatever they wanted to say they should take their oaths first. No more negotiation with the Cambodian People’s Party is possible until they take their oaths. They also should not bargain with us that their taking-oaths must be an exchange for them taking the position of President of the National Assembly. Some people are bragging about stalemate. I wish to clarify that it is not an impasse but we could not move on.
Conclusively, before getting back to negotiation, they should take their oaths in order to have fulfilled conditions, as today is not like on September 15 and 16. I am sure the doors of the Royal Palace are open for them to come take their oaths – all 55 of them and not 63.
Minority Wants NA President’s Post
I would urge you to look around in the world if any country would have a party of minority votes to take the post of President of the National Assembly. On the second day of our meeting, the opposition leaders did not come for a fact-finding independent commission. They made it clear that they accepted the 68-55 election results and Samdech Hun Sen as Prime Minister. They called it their huge compromise. I said to them “please do not use the term ‘compromise’ as I do not need anymore than the votes of the people. People already elected me as Prime Minister. We had better use the term reconciliation. They demanded a power sharing in which they asked for the post of President of the National Assembly and six out of twelve committees of the National Assembly.
Posts or Balance of Power
It was certain that if we were to agree to their demand, they would have participated in the meeting. I also probed them what exactly they are asking for – posts or balance of power. Again, you may think or search if there is any country in this world that party with minority votes would take the post of President of the National Assembly. I made it clear to them that for this very case, they cannot link it to the reconciliation deal (reached between CPP) with (then Funcinpec’s President) Samdech Krom Preah (Norodom Ranaridh).
As far as the case of (then President of Funcinpec) Samdech Krom Preah is concerned there were two major aspects for consideration. Firstly, the country then was in two-third majority system and both the Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec did not win the two-third majority. Secondly, the Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec were allies in both the National Assembly and the Royal Government.
The two aspects are different from the case of today. At the present, Cambodia is applying the absolute majority system or 50% + 1 and the Cambodian People’s Party achieves more than 50% + 1 (seats in the National Assembly). Furthermore, the two political parties (CPP and CNRP) are not political allies. CNRP is the opposition party. If we allow them to have the post of President of the National Assembly, there will certainly be a chance that the National Assembly is blocked. When the National Assembly is blocked, so will be the Royal Government.
It is to everyone’s knowledge that whatever the Royal Government proposes will have to go through the President of the National Assembly. Should the President not call for a meeting or list it in their agenda, the proposed law would not be approved. Again, in this instance, I would make it clear again that the doors of the National Assembly stay open. They cannot say it is the uni-party parliament as there had been eight political parties contesting in the elections.
Comfrel Should Take Certain Responsibilities
There was even this issue of indelible ink just a few hours prior to the elections. They said it is not indelible. Now look at my finger, I still have the ink here. It is almost two months now. I think Comfrel should note that. Has any of you still have your finger inked? There you see. In that case, what should those who brought this issue up a few hours prior to the election do? What sort of responsibility should they take before the public? They call themselves non-governmental organization and in charge of elections. Should they not ask for forgiveness from the whole country for what they did?
I think the least they should do is to take morale responsibility because what they had done about indelible ink was a huge thing. Well, what was their intention behind the indelible ink issue?
Secondly we continue to maintain our position to provide to the (opposition) party with positions in the National Assembly – a) one Vice President, first or second to their choosing. I am sure they would take the first deputy, though they in fact want the post of President; and b) positions of four heads of four commissions and five deputy head of five commissions. I maintain my position. What concerns me though is about the fact that it will now be going through separate voting and a package vote as we did this morning.
However, we are looking for compromises. We want them to get to the session. HM the King, the Senate, the National Assembly and related institutions are not hostages of the Party of minority votes./.