The National Assembly (NA) has approved draft laws which will rename the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection and establish a permanent Secretariat of State for Border Affairs. The new legislation is part of the seventh-mandate government’s bid to deepen its reforms.

The drafts were passed unanimously by the 114 lawmakers who were present at the session.

According to an NA press release, the ministry’s name will be changed to “Ministry of Inspection”.

The Secretariat of State for Border Affairs will replace the National Authority for Border Affairs, in a bid to create a new institution that is permanent and has a full management structure and authority.

“In line with the political programmes of the Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I, the government will continue to carry out in-depth comprehensive and consistent reforms. They will focus on improving governance and institutional capacity, while creating an environment conducive to socio-economic and human resource development, economic diversification and increased competitiveness. This is all part of developing a resilient, sustainable, inclusive private sector and a digital society,” added the release.

The new border affairs secretariat will be permanent, with the intention of attracting talented human resources in domestic and international law, as well as other related fields.

“It will enhance the effectiveness of its duty to resolve border issues with neighbouring countries, strengthen the defence of the Kingdom’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and promote the preservation of historical borders, as a great legacy for all future generations,” explained the release.

Lawmaker Chheang Vun believes that the approval of the changes to the two institutions will facilitate the reforms of the new mandate, as dividing the staff and their roles will serve the national interest now and in the future.

He said the new government will continue to carry out many reforms, noting that these changes are not a division of power as claimed by “some opposition groups”.

“The only purpose is to serve the needs of the country appropriately in the present situation. The approval of theses draft laws is very important to protect national interests – especially the formation of the border affairs secretariat,” he said.

During the NA session, Lam Chea, Minister in charge of the Border Affairs Committee, explained that border affairs are one of the most important aspects to the life of a nation.

“The legal, technical and political aspects all require the closest attention, because we cannot allow any violation of the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Cambodia,” he said.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the establishment of the border affairs secretariat is crucial to both border affairs and territorial integrity, adding that as a separate entity with clear functions and roles, it would also improve the quality and transparency of border affairs.

“This work is very important for Cambodia and is a main priority for the government, which must have a clear, strong institution to carry out this work and ensure good results,” he added.