On 25 February, I participated in the meeting which taken place at the EC office in Phnom Penh. Several NGOs preventatives (ZOA, MEDICAM, NDP , and CEDAC) participated in the meeting with Mr. Dirk Meganck, Director for Asia and Central Asia of the European Aid. The meeting lasted only for one hour started from 14:30 to consult between NGOs/civil societies and the EC (the donor agency).
The main topic discussed during that time is NGOs law that will be set up by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). It is to note that the EC on one hand supports to RGC and another hand supports to NGOs/civil society. NGOs/Civil society believe that that NGOs law set up by the RGC will provide negatively effect to them especially the NGOs/civil society that are working involve in human right and advocacy. During the meeting, NGO representatives raised that EC should work with the RGC to develop a good NGOs law because “No Law is Better than Having a Bad Law”, this is what one of the participants mentioned during the meeting.
The NGOs afraid that the RGC will set up the law to control the budget of their NGOs because they have heard that the RGC wants to control budget of NGOs for anti-terrorism, and NGOs need to request budget from the Ministry of Finance for their operation. In that way, it will reduce the independence of NGOs, this is what the participants mentioned. Some participant said that we can submit the financial report including sources of budget to the RGC, but we need to have own bank account. In this way, it is transparency and can be a model for the RGC to follow us as well.
Ultimately, in dealing with this matter, the participants suggested that NGOs should jointly develop the content of the NGOs law and submit it to the RGC to take into consideration. Additionally, they want to define what is POLITIC because they afraid that the RGC accuses them to be involved in politics and terminate their NGOs.
Another thing, participant raised that the EC should reduce some criteria/requirements because it is difficult for small local NGOs to access grant from the EC for each call for proposal, only big NGOs can access to the grant. In return, Mr. Dirk Meganck responded that we cannot satisfy all NGOs and he also implied that small NGOs are lack of management and transparency despite majority of them are not registered properly at the ministry of interior.