PHNOM PENH —
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy says his party will do its best to prevent the passage of a controversial draft law to regulate NGOs.
The law, which many fear could curtail pro-democracy and rights groups, is to be debated soon in the National Assembly, where the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party holds 55 of 123 seats.
The Assembly’s standing committee will discuss the law on Tuesday, before it is moved to the floor for debate.
Some 400 NGOs have joined together in a campaign to halt the law’s passage, demanding instead that it include consultation from them before going forward.
At a special meeting at the National Assembly Monday, Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy told representatives from at least 10 groups that his party’s goal “is the same as yours: We don’t want the law to pass.”
The Rescue Party will “walk out” of the Assembly if it must, he said. But they will also try to change the law through debate, he said.
Preap Kol, executive director for Transparency International Cambodia, said the draft law would potentially impact all of Cambodia’s some 25,000 NGOs, local associations and clubs.
Chheang Von, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the National Assembly’s spokesman, said Sam Rainsy was only making promises for “political gain.” But with only 55 seats, the Rescue Party will not be able to stop the law from passing, he said.