Prime Minister Hun Manet describes the Council for Consultation and Recommendations as part of an excellent culture of dialogue which mobilises all political forces to participate in the Kingdom’s socio-economic development without discrimination. 

The council was created by former Prime Minister Hun Sen following the 2018 general election to nurture a culture of dialogue among political parties contesting the polls. 

Manet chaired the first meeting of the council under the new government mandate at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on December 6. 

Chhim Phal Virun, head of the council secretariat, said the meeting aimed to gather input from 29 parties, with a view to improving the efficient implementation of the first phase of the Pentagonal Strategy. 

“The council serves as a multi-party mechanism, but it is not the same as the National Assembly or the Senate. Through the mechanisms introduced during this mandate, we hope they will provide useful input,” he said.

“We have provided openness, independence and sovereignty to each party, so they can enjoy responsible autonomy. They have a duty to provide recommendations to the prime minister,” he added.

Pa Chanroeun, president of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID), noted that political mechanisms which involve different political parties is an important part of raising social issues and proposing solutions for the nation and its people. Therefore, it is important that all of the politicians in a liberal democratic society be prepared to join a body like the council.

He added that opposition political parties in all advanced democratic societies carry out their work via parliament, or a National Assembly. They engage in political debates with the lawmakers who currently represent the people.

“This kind of mechanism allows the voices of representatives whose political parties did not win seats to be heard by the government. It also offers an important system of checks and balances,” he said.

He explained that while the council is relatively new, he has some concerns about its efficiency and doubts over its value.

Pothidey Savadey, head of the Dharmacracy Party who attended the first meeting, expected that the council would be more efficient under the leadership of Manet, as the new prime minister appears to be committed to meeting the requests of the member parties.

“Through the mechanism of the council, we will monitor inaction, corruption and other issues. We will report them to Prime Minister Hun Manet, and he will devise solutions or reforms in order to improve any issues,” she said.

“The prime minister [Manet] takes it seriously, and has allowed each party to go to the grass roots level and conduct their chosen missions without asking prior permission, as was the case under the previous mandate,” she noted.