Home > Local News > Cambodia Kingdom of Wondering about how new laws will change our lifes

Cambodia Kingdom of Wondering about how new laws will change our lifes

Dara Saoyuth and Tang Khyhay explore the law, as it relates to us.

khyhay_saoyuthBorn
in Kandal’s Ponhea Leu district, this young man decided to leave home
for Phnom Penh in 2009 to get a better education. Chan Sokneang, 22, is
now a sophomore in English literature at the National University of
Management.

Staying independently in Neakvon Pagoda, Chan
Sokneang is struggling to make a living as an intern at an organisation
in the city, hoping to gain some experience for his future goal as an
NGO staff member after graduation. He hopes to land his dream job so he
will not have to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become a farmer.

“I
am very concerned about job opportunities that NGOs provide since the
draft of the NGO law might affect their recruitment,” said Chan
Sokneang.

Released on December 15, 2010, the draft law on
Associations and Non-governmental Organisations aims to “set out
formalities and conditions for forming, registering and operating
associations, domestic non-governmental organisations and foreign
non-governmental organisations in the Kingdom of Cambodia”.

Chan
Sokneang said he was worried that the law would decrease the number of
NGOs, which could cut down his opportunities to work for an NGO in the
future.

In Samrithy, the Executive Director of NGO Education
Partnership, said the new law constrained the cooperation between
national and international NGOs, but it will not lessen NGOs’ careers.
Instead, the law would make the recruitment process more complicated.

He
added that this law did not attract donors to provide funds to
Cambodia. He said: “If the donors stop funding Cambodian organisations,
many NGOs staff will be laid off,” he said, adding that the law should
be made to attract donors rather than to discourage them from helping
Cambodia.

However, the concern of not having many NGO job
opportunities is not the real issue in Cambodia’s job market. Sandra
Damico, the Managing Director of HR Inc Cambodia, said NGOs do not
provide the overwhelming majority of jobs in the market. It was the
small and medium enterprises sector that employed the most people with
sectors such as garments, tourism, finances, telecoms etc providing the
most formal and documented employment.

She said: “I don’t think
that the law will have a significant impact on creating employment
opportunities – the private sector is the sector that will and does
generate the most employment.”

Although the law does not greatly
affect the job opportunities of young Cambodians, it may act as a
barrier in framing NGOs’ activities.

There are 11 chapters with
58 articles in the draft law. Sok Samoeun, an executive director at
Cambodian Defenders Project, said the government tends to control and
limit NGOs and association’s activities by using the law.

“At
the start of each month, they have to draft and send their activities
to the government and also at the end of the month they have to do
activities and financial reports to the government, which seems like
they have to report everything,” Sok Samoeun explained.

According
to Article 6 of the law, an association and non-governmental
organisation or alliance of associations or local non-governmental
organisations which are not registered or do not have a memorandum
signed in accordance with this law shall not be allowed to operate any
activity in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Sok Samoeun said the registration should be the right for NGOs and associations.

On
January 21 this year, there was a meeting to discuss the draft law at
the Ministry of Interior between the government and NGOs
representatives including Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, NGO
Forum, Medicam, Adhoc and Oxfam.

People who attended the
meeting said the new law is going through a process and it is very
important to understand each side so the law will work for all after
being implemented. They said the law was not being made to violate
anyone’s rights.

“If any NGO or association feels that any point
in the law is violating their rights, please raise the specific article
so that we can discuss it with each other,” said Try Sokheng, who was
at the meeting.

Try Sokheng said the law was not being made to
close any NGOs or associations down, but the government just wanted all
NGOs and associations to register at the ministry of interior within
180 days of the law pass being passed.

“It depends on them. If
they don’t want to continue, they can close and if they want to
continue, they have to register,” said Try Sokheng, adding that some
NGOs and associations that don’t have clear goals might not be able to
exist anymore.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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