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Tuesday, 04 January 2011 10:41

Brief History of Cambodian Parliament

Cambodia has come across the crucial and painful stages during these three decades. State institutions have been constantly modified and reshuffled according to each political regime in place. As such, the Cambodian Parliament has profoundly faced with institutional and structural upheavals. Until 1970, Cambodia was a Monarchy composed of a Bicameral Parliament. From 1970 to 1975, Cambodia became a Republic State with two Chambers and from 1975 to 1979; it was a totalitarian Communist regime with only one chamber. From 1979 to 1993 it became the socialist model with one chamber. Since 1993, Cambodia has adopted a Constitutional Monarchy with one chamber. Facing with these rapid and successive changes, the Cambodian Parliament like other institutions of the State was unable to ensure its continuity in the accomplishment of its works. After 1998 general election, Cambodia has faced with a major political crisis over deep disagreement on the validity of the result of those 1998 election. But this crisis was resolved during the summit meeting of the leaders of the major political parties from 12 to 13 November 1998 under the highest chairmanship of His Majesty the King of Cambodia. The meeting decided to set up a Senate by ways of amendment of the Constitution, thereby allowing Cambodia to acquire a new bicameral parliamentary system. The Senators of the first Legislature were all appointed up to the outset of 2006. National Assembly is in its last year of its third Legislature while the Senate is at the early stage of its second Legislature following the senatorial election that took place on 22 January 2006. The parliamentarians, who have their seats in the two Houses, come from three political parties. National Assembly has 123 Members and Senate has 61 Members. Each House has its autonomous budget, a Standing Committee (12 members), 9 Specialized Commissions, one Secretariat General, provincial and municipal offices for Parliamentarians. The Senate is in the process of setting up its offices in different regions of the country.

Chapter 2: Rationales for further capacity building of the Cambodian Parliament
The strengthening of the capacity of the Cambodian Parliament, in particular the Parliamentarians, are so necessary in their legislative roles, their roles in overseeing the Government’s implementation, their roles in their own constituency as well as the public forum organizing. The missions of the Parliamentarians can only be achieved with the assistance of the staffs of both Secretariats General of the Parliament. As such, it is a must to have continuous training for those staffs in order to further improve their capacity. Until now, the Royal Government has provided its assistance for capacity development of the Parliament by increasing its annual development budget. However, the Cambodian Parliament still needs more resources in order to further improve its capacity. For the case of Cambodia, like those countries which have just come out from internal conflicts, the strengthening of the capacity of the Parliament in order to achieve a modern democratic level would demand great efforts, the important resources and a timeframe at least from 10 to 15 years. Unfortunately, Cambodia remains one among developing countries where the government must face with major challenges in areas of education, health, construction of national infrastructure (the roads, bridges, seaports, airports, irrigation systems, drinking water system and electricity system) and the fight against poverty. Moreover, the Government must ensure the success of many fronts of reforms, such as political, economic and social reforms so as to promote the respect of Human Rights, good governance, and rule of law. In this context, it seems very important to us to solicit the international assistance in order to strengthen the capacity of our Parliament. To date, the assistance provided by our partners for the development of the Cambodian Parliament is very effective, but remains very limited.

Chapter 3: Cambodian Parliament’s Perspectives in the Next Ten Years In ten-year time,
our Parliament shall actively and relentlessly work to achieve the following five objectives:
1. To become an institution fully capable of assuming its legislative mandate.
2. To become an institution competent in exercising control over the Executive.
3. To become an institution capable of effectively managing the distribution and sharing of information.
4. To become a legislative Institution to be fully in charge of the representation of its citizen.
5. To become an institution equipped with professional support and staffs with high quality.

Chapter 4: Action Plan
Our Parliament considers that in order to bring a legislative Institution like ours to a level of standard of modern Parliament, surely it will demand great efforts from our part and also an active support from our partners from 10 to 15 years time. In order to achieve our short, medium and long term objectives, Action Plan must be put in place with great hope that at the end of each step, a specific objective will surely be achieved.
We have developed an appropriate strategy in function of the recent evaluation, concerning with ideas and recommendations acquired during the courses of several meetings with Parliamentarians, officials of the Parliament, the representatives of the Civil Society, the national and international Non-Governmental Organizations, international partners and other important stakeholders with keen interests for the development of Parliament. Our Action Plan has Three Steps:

A. Short-Term Action Plan (2007- 2009) This project, in partnership with one or two Partners in development, we emphasize on the improvement of very primordial three cornerstones of the roles of Parliament, the Legislative Roles, the Oversight Role and the Representation of the Citizen. The Cambodian Parliament shall focus its efforts in the same time to strengthen the capacity of its officials to discharge and support the massive and complex works of the Parliamentarians.

B. Medium-Term Action Plan (2009 -2013) It is in fact a period of revitalization of the two Houses of the Cambodian Parliament. The Action Plan shall, therefore, concentrate on the strengthening of the roles and duties of the Members of Parliament. Consequently, it shall pursue and broaden the works of the 2007-2009 Plan. In this period, the Parliament must embark on a certain number of initiatives and, with partners, begin to effectively improve its strategy in order to achieve its development.

Our Parliament proposes the following programs:

 Review of the procedures of examination of the proposed or draft laws.
- Amelioration of Action Plan aiming at development of the roles of the parliamentary Commissions.
- Elaboration of the capacity of Parliament in the processes of formulation and the control of budget.
- Amelioration of the services and the effectiveness of the information department and public relations.
- Strengthening the roles of the Members of Parliament in their capacity as the representatives of all Cambodians.
- Elaboration of the educational programs for school children and students.

C. Long-Term Action Plan (2014 -2018) We are continuing to support the important activities of the project of strengthening of the Legislative Institutions in order to further improve the representative democracy. At this stage, the Parliament shall become responsible for funding the human resources and the information technology. The well planned Action Plans are the following:
1. Establish institution in-house training and development units.
2. Further strengthen the role in budget preparation and review.
3. Development of the capacity of auditing services of the Parliament.
4. Strengthening the capacity of the representation of Parliamentarians.

Chapter 5: Mechanism of Coordination and Management
The Cambodian Parliament is determined to strengthen and coordinate their actions on the management of international assistance in its capacity as partners. Hence, the partners and bilateral or multilateral donors may consider their options of management of the projects at their own choices. Moreover, the Cambodian Parliament wishes that the whole projects of assistance be coordinated by an intervention of coordinating mechanisms.

1. Bilateral Assistance
The partners of bilateral assistance may agree upon a certain project prescribed in the strategic programs of the Parliament or on any particular project initiated by them. They can manage their fund by their own agents or by a collective mechanism or with the Cambodian Parliament.

2. Multilateral Assistance
This assistance can be channeled through a coordinating agency, the UNDP. UNDP is the medium coordinating agency through which the donors or any other organizations have funded. General assistance of funds will allow UNDP, the stakeholder of the project for the development of the Parliament to be more flexible in its choices of prioritized projects in a short, medium and long term time span or for other objectives approved by the donors and the Parliament.

3. No-Funding Assistance and Inter-parliamentary Cooperation
The donors may choose the possibility to provide their assistance by utilization of their own resources, in supporting the development of human resources, in hiring the experts or counselors, or even, in funding the resources, ways and means to Parliamentarians or Parliamentary officials to participate in the activities in partnership with other Parliaments.

4. Coordination and management Mechanisms
The Cambodian Parliament wishes that the assistance provided by our partners be conformed to prioritized domains as prescribed in our Strategic Action Plan at a short, medium and long term time span so as to assure that they will respond effectively to the state of realities in place and real needs as well as global efforts at the national level. For this intent, we anticipate the creation of a ‘Technical Coordination Secretariat’ to:
- guarantee the transparency and common responsibility; - minimize or eliminate the duplication and conflicts between different activities of different partners;
- increase the durability of usage of foreign assistance through concerted strategies and programs to actively support it;
- Reduce administrative burden of staffs in their management of their components of multiple operations ( management of program, Permanent Committee or the sector of implementation of the projects); - Improve the information exchanges and the cooperation. The Technical Coordination Secretariat, directed by two Secretaries General of the Parliament, working under the direction of the Standing Committee of the Parliament. The Standing Committee of the Parliament is composed of two Presidents of the Parliament, the Chairmen of the 9 Specialized Commissions of the Senate and National Assembly and other development partners. The Standing Committee of the Parliament will have a meeting in every 6 months in order to streamline and discuss and annual projects.

5. Resources Mobilization
The Cambodian Parliament has already embarked on mobilization of the resources and has set up programs by means of relations and communications with among many partners of development, the Embassies, the International Organizations and Parliamentary delegations. And today, I am honored to kindly inform you at this present meeting of our Association of the Secretaries General of the Parliaments. I would like to conclude my intervention through the Strategic Action Plan of our Parliament, and to appeal to national Parliaments and international partners to please provide us your supports and assistance in experts and in resources that we are still in shortages at the present juncture.

 

 
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