Finding Solutions to People’s Problems
On 7 February, a public holiday, Minority MPs held a public meeting to hear complaints from the residents of Prek Preah Sdech in Battambang city. The land the residents have lived on is destined for a public park. After we left the public meeting we received an invitation from the governor of Battambang for a talk. The meeting between Minority MPs and the city officials went on for over two hours. Both sides defend their positions but in a tone of respect. Both sides knew a solution to the residents’ housing problems had to be found. At the end, the governor ensured that the residents would not be forced out of the land and there would be a public meeting with the governor for residents to air their complaints.
Minority MPs listening to residents’ complaints.
Meeting at the office of the city governor.
Breaking the Old Pratice
Interactions between the Majority and Minority MPs happen daily between members of the Parliamentary Commissions and the people. Ministers are breaking the old habit of No Show to coming prepared for question time with the Commissions.
Minister of Justice and Chair of Commission after meeting
Meet Your MP
CNRP has launched a new program of Meet Your MP, or a dialogue with our constituents at each provincial office reserved for MPs or at community level. Samlot district in North West Battambang has been until now the most challenging place to conduct public hearings. Cut off for years, the people of Samlot live in fear. Last week Meet Your MP was conducted under a tree. Even there, the people have heard of the culture of dialogue. It was the first time I was able to openly perform my role and duty as their elected representative without feeling the pressure of being followed and closely watched.
The Culture of Dialogue Has No Time Frame
The 22 July Agreements between the two political parties representing the people at the National Assembly should be seen beyond a political deal but as a breakthrough for inclusive democracy.
There is no challenge harder to overcome than the challenge of building a culture of dialogue. It does not take one side to sit at the table but all those who want to put an end to violence have the right to a seat or be represented at the table.
There is no time frame when building a culture of dialogue but there must be a shared vision and a common agenda to end the years of mistrust and antagonism.