Crisis of Constitutional Audacity of Cambodia

Posted by: | Posted on: June 19, 2016



Cambodia-Constitution-2556-2012bAt the present, Cambodia political landscape is heading towards constitutional crisis as two official political parties ie. CPP and CNRP have faced challenges on comprehension and implementation of many articles within the Constitution.

As the matter of fact, government-led party CPP interpreted article 80 differently from CNRP on “Parliamentary Impunity”. Hence, the interpretation has happened solely after the Constitution violations were already triggered. For instance, Prime Minister voiced his public rhetoric in many places on arresting or jailing law-makers, news report wrote adamantly on his direct control over arresting Senator Hong Sok Hour and many other figures. Strategists expressed ideas on arresting and jailing dissents and law-makers of Premier as “three steps ahead” such as 1. outpacing all his comrades within the party, 2. disengaging all responsible bodies to ensure constitutionality, 3. leaving opposition party in limbo in catching up their democratic procedures and principal.  Premier has played direct role to conduct his political strategies to disengage and to threaten both legal practitioners and law-abiders within his party. As a result, every legal practitioner and law-abider are silent allowing few individuals to interpret laws that could fit well with those initial activities. The initial activities were called by Cambodian popular adage as “cutting head to fit with hat” approach. And the Premier has created “claws” to back up his “political plans”, those claws are grade-one loyalists whom are emerged as “kin relationship”, not “common interest relationship” per se.

Considering “Constitution” as “Head”, such reversal approach is devastating to the nation in short term and future sustainability. Constitutional crisis is in disarray as the body to ensure constitutionality ie. “Constitutional Council” has displayed bad image on “trust”, “impartiality”, and “ability” to work independently and professionally.

The inability to seek competent body to solve issue on “Constitutional Crisis” shall result in: 1- strong built-up concentrated power and consolidated personality regime deadly confronts with principles of democracy, 2- emerging political violence stemming from “black” and “white” politics or “confrontational” regime scenario in which 55 laws-makers of CNRP has likely been forced to give up parliamentary building by going back to street protesting and activism.

Case Study:

Putting aside Weberian school on “Institution” building, or Rousseau’s thought on “Social Contract” principality, I am found comments from CNRP-NA intriguing.

First comment (please click on this link to read the entire comment) on “Parliamentary Impunity” as Article 80 stated “Members of the National Assembly shall enjoy parliamentary immunity. No Member of the National Assembly shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed in the exercise of his/her duties. A Member of the National Assembly may only be prosecuted, arrested or detained with the permission of the National Assembly or by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly between sessions, except in case of flagrant delicto offences. In that case, the competent authority shall immediately report to the National Assembly or to the Standing Committee and request permission. The decision of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly shall be submitted to the National Assembly at its next session, for approval by a two thirds majority vote of all Members of the National Assembly. In any case, the detention or prosecution of a Member of the National Assembly shall be suspended if the National Assembly requires that the detention or prosecution be suspended by a three quarter majority vote of all Members of the National Assembly“.

The comment sought understanding of “flagrant delicto”, “due processes of law”, “due diligence and professionalism” of legal practitioners, and “presumption of innocence” etc.  More than this, many articles within the ratified Constitution has not been undertaken by the incumbent government which posed questions on “political will” to conduct governance and administration diligently or to comply with the laws.

Second comment (please click on this link to read the whole comment) on “Constitutional Interpretation” conducted by the Ministry of Justice is one of the visible violation on constitutionality especially not only Article 80 that has been violated, the interpretation ignored the duty and ability of the “Constitutional Council” as stated in Article 136 (new). The comment also articulated on how Premier has conducted his political career through repeated contraventions on “Constitution” without having mechanism to handle with. It seems both official parties: CPP and CNRP are lacking comprehension to value “national interest as supremacy” by allowing individual Premier to beat the drum and select his own dancing tune inside his private studio room without worrying any legal reprisal.


As nation means collective social, political and economic burden, individual or spatial activity to claim responsibility of this nation is not due at all. To ensure such claim in concrete implementation, Cambodia is in need “Institution” that is built by and complied with “Constitution”. Thus, any one who has violated the Constitution must be trialed or having mechanism to trial those. Constitution is the supreme law to ensure workable institution, but if each political party is shortage in Institution Implementation within their parties, it is in vain as well.

  • There is an attempt on political study of both official parties ie. CPP and CNRP on how business has been conducted especially in term of delegation, deliberation, decision-making processes, and work evaluations etc. While CPP is government-led party in many decades to be able to consolidate financial wealth and manpower to manipulate the whole system for its best advantage, CNRP is simply grassroots front-liners to rely on big heart value, sacrifice, audacity and integrity, thus if this assumption is true, how have the two parties designed and implemented their “Grand Policy”? Actually, putting aside on advantaged CPP, CNRP has seems wholly depended on the voice of members and well-known public analysts to conclude its policy if we recalled the 2013 and 2014 heyday. For instance, the demand for change of NEC proportion under the amendment of constitution might be thoughtful for this party’s long term scenario, but the unheard proposal of ensuring neutral constitutional council, neutral arm-forces, neutral judiciary body, or law on political party financing etc. are considered lacking “working paper” produced by “knowledgeable working group” to ensure long term strength of democratic stakeholders. Thus, some observers made a laugh on proposal to having TV channel at the meantime.
  • Observers criticized on the performance of 55 law-makers of CNRP during their parliamentary duties inside the parliamentary building. Many leaders within the special task-force of law-makers of Assembly Standing Committee from CNRP put in row many ministers and high ranking officers for questioning, while the implementation of Article 98 (new) was not heard or planned by any Committee or individual law-maker. In term of time frame and action plan, critics see CNRP’s law-makers were not consistently programming its primary and secondary agenda. And time elapsed very fast as observers predicted Hun Sen’s latest strategy to disband CNRP’s Minority Leader or law-makers group of opposition from the Assembly Building is to ensure he shall not be fallen into Article 98.
  • At the moment, Premier is feeling relaxed as his latest Machiavellian agenda is in place, both kin relationship and common interest relationship are inevitably under his chessboard, he is foreseeing the possibility of division, exhaustion, and blaming game of his contender. Hence, CNRP has been along way with “goodness credential” that shall inevitably absorb both grassroots nationalists and international communities to transfer ocean waves into tsunami tide. But all and all, it shall wholly depend on how each party attaches to “Institution” mindset.

Comments are Closed