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Merger of Opposition Remains at Impasse

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Kem Sokha, president of Human Right Party, called the merger the “final
chance” for the parties to organize for democratic change. Photo by Im Sothearith
The leader of the minority Human Rights Party has written exiled
opposition leader Sam Rainsy to propose both parties merge ahead of
elections next year, but the two sides remain unable to find common
ground.
In an official letter, HRP President Kem Sokha proposes a new party
be formed under a new banner, rather than have his party merge under
the Sam Rainsy Party banner. He called the merger the “final chance”
for the parties to organize for democratic change.
“We want a new establishment for all, which will be a new kind of
democracy-building so that all can live together,” Kem Sokha said in a
phone interview Monday. “We tremendously want to mobilize and win
against the [Cambodian People’s Party]. Then we can change the current
leader.”
The two parties have tried unsuccessfully to join for at least two
years, following national elections in 2008 that gave 26 seats to the
Sam Rainsy Party and three seats to the Human Rights Party. The CPP won
90 seats.
Kem Sokha said the stalled merger plan was in part due to the leadership of Sam Rainsy.
“We see that the leadership system today in the Sam Rainsy Party
makes it not possible to accept any other forces,” he said. “We have
seen since 2003 only those who leave, not those who join. So now that
the space is narrow, I will speak plainly. It’s narrow in that the
leadership has not been a wide democracy.”
He noted the recent defection of SRP lawmaker Mao Monyvann to the Human Rights Party, among others.
However, Sam Rainsy, when contacted by phone in France, said Kem
Sokha’s language echoed that of the CPP. Before any integration, he
said, both sides will need to see each other as partners, “not
enemies,” he said.
“Do not confuse the enemy for democrats among the nationalists,” he said.
Sam Rainsy has been removed from his parliamentary seat, following
guilty verdicts for several charges related to anti-Vietnamese protests
in 2009. It is unclear whether a political solution can be found for
his return for 2012 commune elections or 2013 national elections.
Hang Puthea, executive director for the Neutral and Impartial
Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said both parties
lack a willingness to cooperate.
“I think that each party has an individual policy, or strategy, so
when the two are added up to each other, there are clearly overlapping
points that impact each other,” he said.
And while it is hard to predict the movements of politicians, he
said, the two parties will gain little by waiting until too close to
the election if they are to come together.
Source: VOA News
Categories: Local News, Politic

Mu Sochua’s immunity bid rejected

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment
National Assembly President Heng Samrin has rejected a request for the
restoration of immunity for Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua,
who was stripped of her immunity in 2009 in connection with a
now-resolved legal dispute with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Photo by: Sovan Philong
Sam Rainsy
Party lawmaker Mu Sochua speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh
last month. A request for the restoration of her immunity has been
rejected by National Assembly President Heng Samrin.
In
response to a letter sent by a group of 17 SRP parliamentarians earlier
this month, Heng Samrin said that according to the Kingdom’s criminal
procedure code, the assembly needed to wait for permission from the
Ministry of Justice before restoring Mu Sochua’s immunity.

This
permission, he said, could only come one year after Mu Sochua finished
repaying the fine levied in her case, or as early as September this
year.

“I would like to tell your excellencies that the assembly
does not now have the ability to consider the restoration of Her
Excellency Mu Sochua’s immunity because Her Excellency has not received
rehabilitation
from the court,” Heng Samrin wrote. In January, the
Ministry of Justice wrote a letter to the National Assembly stating
that Mu Sochua could remain without her parliamentary immunity for up
to five years.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana could not be
reached for comment yesterday, and Bun Hun, an undersecretary of state
at the ministry in charge of penal cases, declined to comment.

The
SRP letter called for the immediate restoration of Mu Sochua’s
immunity, claiming that its continued withholding constituted an
attempt at political intimidation.

Opposition lawmaker Ho Vann,
one of the MPs who signed the original letter, said yesterday that he
saw no legal basis for the assembly’s refusal to act in Mu Sochua’s
case.

“I have seen nothing stating that we must wait for an
answer from the Justice Ministry before we receive immunity,” Ho Vann
said.

“I think Samdech Heng Samrin, the assembly president, has the complete right to restore Her Excellency Mu Sochua’s immunity.”

Mu
Sochua’s parliamentary immunity was suspended in 2009 to allow for her
prosecution in a defamation case brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Her
highly publicised legal battle with the premier started in April that
year, when she filed a defamation suit against Hun Sen in relation to
comments he allegedly made about her during a speech in Kampot province.

The
Premier countersued and the court ruled against her, ordering her to
pay 16.5 million riel (US$4,084) in fines and compensation.

Though
Mu Sochua refused to pay – saying she was willing to go to jail if
necessary – the court issued an order authorising the docking of her
salary for four months.

In a statement issued last month, the
Cambodian Centre for Human Rights called for Mu Sochua’s immunity to be
restored immediately, citing “the absence of clear provisions expressly
allowing for the refusal to restore parliamentary immunity to a member
of the National Assembly who has been convicted of a crime but not
sentenced to a term of imprisonment”.

Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News, Politic

Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy brands CPP ‘new KR’

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy branded ruling party officials including
Prime Minister Hun Sen “a new generation of the Khmer Rouge” during a
ceremony yesterday at the killing fields of Choeung Ek.
Photo by: Pha Lina

Children attend a
ceremony yesterday at the killing fields of Choeung Ek organised by the
Sam Rainsy Party to commemorate the anniversary of the fall of Phnom
Penh in 1975.

Organised
on the anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to Khmer Rouge forces in
1975, the ceremony drew roughly 200 observers and Sam Rainsy Party
supporters. Sam Rainsy himself remains abroad to avoid
a slew of
criminal complaints against him, though he spoke to those in attendance
yesterday via videoconference from France, offering provacative
criticism of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“The new
generation of Khmer Rouge, puppets of Vietnam, have killed people
little by little, backed by Vietnam,” Sam Rainsy said. “Both Pol Pot
and Hun Sen have always celebrated April 17 because they regard it as
their victory day.”

The comments recall an address Sam Rainsy
made at Choeung Ek in 2008 alleging that Foreign Minister Hor Namhong
headed the Boeung Trabek prison under the Khmer Rouge. The foreign
minister sued Sam Rainsy for defamation in relation the comments, with
hearings in the case taking place at Phnom Penh Municipal Court earlier
this month despite the absence of Sam Rainsy and his lawyer.

Sam
Rainsy already faces a total of 12 years in prison following a pair of
convictions last year in relation to a protest he staged along the
Kingdom’s eastern border in 2009 against alleged Vietnamese
encroachment. He fled the country shortly following this protest to
avoid the case pending against him.

Acting SRP president Kong
Korm echoed Sam Rainsy’s comments at the ceremony yesterday, saying
Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal had prosecuted just “one group” of Khmer
Rouge leaders, but that “the Khmer Rouge group supported by Vietnam has
been acquitted”.

“I have seen that land evictions these days are not different from in the Khmer Rouge regime,” Kong Korm said.

Senior
ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yeap dismissed the SRP comments yesterday
and warned that Sam Rainsy could face additional legal action for his
criticisms of Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly
President Heng Samrin, all of whom hold the “Samdech” honourific.

“If
the three Samdechs just wink at their lawyers, the lawyers can file
complaints and Sam Rainsy can receive another jail sentence,” Cheam
Yeap said.

“I know that at this point, Sam Rainsy has no hope
of returning to his homeland, so that’s why he raises these issues
again and again.”

 
Categories: Local News, Politic, Sam Rainsy

Cambodian ‘Vital Voice’ Urges More Women’s Rights

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment
Vital Voices,
an organization for women leadership, held an annual awards ceremony in
Washington this month, gathering many women from around the world who
work toward greater rights.
Cambodian parliamentarian and human rights leader Mu Sochua meets with
US Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton during a Vital Voices Global
Leadership Awards event in Washington, DC on April 12, 2011. Phot: Courtesy of  Mu Sochau
The ceremony, held at the Kennedy Center in downtown Washington,
honored seven women, including Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, for
their contributions in politics, advocacy and business. The other
awardees came from Afghanistan, Cameroon, India, Israel, Palestine and
the US.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, founder of the organization,
said at the April 13 ceremony that each woman shared common values,
despite the differences in their countries.
“They each look for ways to make systemic change, to lift the lives
of thousands, even millions of people,” Clinton said. “They each have
paid a price for their work in arrests or abuse or ridicule, insults,
and isolation.”
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua, who won the Vital Voices award
in 2005, said women in Cambodia need to participate more in politics,
in both grassroots and upper political leadership.

“We as
women politicians must use the positions given to us by women voters to
solve their suffering,” Mu Sochua said in Washington, where she spent
several days earlier this month to to build support for the political
and economic rights of women. “We must really solve their problems
based on a basis of women helping women.”

At the National Democratic Institute, Mu Sochua briefed leaders on
effort to help women prevent land-grabbing and forced evictions. She
also met officials to discuss trafficking and forced labor, which the
2010 US human rights report acknowledged as a persistent problem in
Cambodia.
“It is utterly crucial that such an important organization knows
about women’s struggles, so that it can help change their lives and
build democracy,” she told NDI, which she called “a main source of
funding and also an information channel to US lawmakers.”
In an interview, she appealed for other Cambodian women to join and push for greater rights.
“All parliamentarians, especially those 90 members of the Cambodian
People’s Party, should uphold the parliamentary power bestowed upon
us,” she said. “Don’t protect your party principles, because as
politicians we serve the voters, not the party.”
Categories: Local News, Politic

Rainsy appeal scheduled

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment
AN appeal of Sam Rainsy’s 10-year jail term for disinformation and
falsifying public documents will be heard next month, as the opposition
leader continues his self-exile to avoid the charges against him.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy meets with United States Ambassador Carol Rodley in 2009. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Appeal Court prosecutor Ouk Savuth has issued a summons asking Sam Rainsy to appear on May 10 in relation to the case.

In
September, Sam Rainsy was found guilty of the charges by the Phnom Penh
Municipal Court and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail, which
followed a two-year jail term handed down against him by the Svay Rieng
provincial court last January.

Sam Rainsy’s conviction in Svay
Rieng came in connection with a 2009 protest he staged at the Kingdom’s
eastern border to decry alleged Vietnamese land encroachment. Following
this conviction, he published maps online and held a series of
video-conferences from abroad in an attempt to vindicate his border
claims, earning the new round of charges for which he was convicted in
September.

Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, said yesterday
that he was prepared to represent the opposition leader, but was unsure
whether Sam Rainsy still wanted to pursue the case.

Government lawyer Ky Tech declined to comment at length but confirmed that he would attend the hearing next month.

Meanwhile,
the verdict in a defamation case brought against Sam Rainsy by Foreign
Minister Hor Namhong scheduled to be released yesterday has been pushed
back to April 25, a court clerk said yesterday.

The case
relates to comments Sam Rainsy made in 2008 alleging that Hor Namhong
headed the Boeung Trabek prison under the Khmer Rouge.

 
Categories: Local News, Politic, Sam Rainsy

Hearing in new Rainsy case

April 7, 2011 Leave a comment
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court held a hearing yesterday in a defamation
case against opposition leader Sam Rainsy filed by Foreign Minister Hor
Namhong despite the absence of both the accused and his lawyer.
Sam Rainsy speaks in Phnom Penh in January 2009. Photo by: Tracey Shelton
The
charges were brought under the UNTAC criminal code and stem from
comments that Sam Rainsy, president of the eponymous political party,
made on April 17, 2008.

According to the 2008 complaint, Sam
Rainsy alleged that Hor Namhong headed the Boeung Trabek prison under
the Khmer Rouge. Hor Namhong won a similar suit in France in 2008 that
levied a symbolic fine on Sam Rainsy for comments in his autobiography.

At
yesterday’s hearing, judge Seng Neang asked Ek Chheng Huot, the deputy
prosecutor, and Kar Savuth, Hor Namhong’s attorney, whether the court
should go ahead without Sam Rainsy and his counsel. Both advised the
judge to proceed.

Long Visalo, secretary of state at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, appeared to testify on behalf of Hor
Namhong, and a court clerk also read testimony from former S-21 prison
chief Kaing Guek Eav on behalf of the foreign minister.

Kaing
Guek Eav, better known as Duch, last year became the first defendant
convicted by the Khmer Rouge tribunal and has been represented there by
Kar Savuth.

If convicted, Sam Rainsy faces fines and up to four years in prison under Articles 62 and 63 of the UNTAC code.

Kar
Savuth argued that witness testimony and the French court ruling proved
Hor Namhong was merely the head of a small group of inmates at the
prison – not the prison chief.

“I would like the court to
convict Sam Rainsy seriously, and demand 10 million riel (US$2,505) for
compensation,” Kar Savuth said yesterday, though he told reporters
outside the court that the most important thing for his client was that
Sam Rainsy be punished.

The embattled opposition leader, who is
currently based in France, has already stacked up 12 years in prison
related to a political stunt opposing alleged Vietnamese encroachment
along the border in 2009.
He was stripped of his parliamentary seat last month as a result of the convictions.

Choung
Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s attorney, declined to comment at length
yesterday, saying his client was “not interested” in the case.

Categories: Local News, Politic, Sam Rainsy

Funcinpec taps Bun Chhay

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment
Nhek Bun Chhay was unanimously elected as executive president of the
royalist Funcinpec Party by 3,000 members in Phnom Penh over the
weekend, claiming a centrist mantle as well as 200 defectors from the
Sam Rainsy and Norodom Ranariddh parties.
Nhek Bun Chhay, newly elected executive president of the Funcinpec party, speaks to party members on Friday. Photo by: Hong Menea
The deputy prime
minister, formerly secretary general of the party, said at the
Funcinpec congress on Saturday that 100 members of the SRP and 100 from
the NRP had joined Funcinpec – allegedly drawn by its “reform agenda”–
and said he had a list of names to prove it.

Responding to
criticism that his party is under the control of the ruling party, Nhek
Bun Chhay said his party was merely seeking to cooperate with the
Cambodian People’s Party.

“Funcinpec has cooperated with the CPP
since a long time ago as part of King Father [Norodom Sihanouk’s]
political platform. So I still cooperate with the CPP for political
stability,” Nhek Bun Chhay said.

Pen Sangha, Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman, said Nhek Bun Chhay’s claim about defections was a charade.

“I
have checked with the grassroots already, and no member of the NRP has
defected. On the contrary, only Funcinpec members have defected to the
NRP,” Pen Sangha said.

“If [Nhek Bun Chhay] has the name list, please show us which province [the defectors are from],” he said yesterday.

Ke Sovannarath, secretary general of the SRP, declined to comment yesterday.

Former Funcinpec president Keo Puth Reaksmey was elected chairman.

He said he would have fewer responsibilities but would be tasked with holding the new executive president accountable.

Keo Puth Reaksmey said Funcinpec lacks the influence to oppose the CPP and defended his party’s cozy stance to the regime.

“We cannot do what we want. We have few votes,” he said.

Nhek
Bun Chhay faces recent allegations that he improperly sold the
Funcinpec party headquarters and, separately, accepted money from a
Chinese telecommunications company asking that he “bring into full
play” his influence in Funcinpec and as deputy prime minister to secure
a licence for operations in the Kingdom.

Nhek Bun Chhay has dismissed the accusations, brought by former Funcinpec members who defected to the NRP.

Categories: Local News, Politic

Kim Il Sung’s Feats Praised

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment
Pyongyang, April 3 (KCNA) — Cambodian and Russian papers carried
special write-ups on the occasion of the birth anniversary of President
Kim Il Sung.
The March 25 issue of the Cambodian paper
Kmae Amata carried an article titled “Eternal President of the DPRK”
with a portrait of smiling President and photos on his revolutionary
activities.
The paper in the article noted
that the President put forward the original line of setting up the
people’s government and established the people’s revolutionary
government in guerrilla bases during the days of the anti-Japanese war.
It also recalled that the President clarified the character and duty of
the Korean revolution and laid down an original line of founding a
state in conformity with the desire of the Korean people and founded
the DPRK after the liberation of the country.
The 12th issue of the Russian paper Patriot edited articles with a
portrait of the President and a photo showing the President standing
together with Kim Jong Il.
The paper in
articles pointed to the facts that the President provided the people
with all good social and political conditions so that they might
exercise their right as the master of the country and Kim Jong Il has
conducted energetic activities to carry forward and realize the idea
and the cause of the President.
 
The paper
referred to the facts that the President regarded the slogan “Mix with
the people!” as his motto all his life and embodied the politics of
love and trust in the people, the first of its kind in human history.
Categories: Local News, Politic

No defence necessary: Sam Rainsy

March 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said yesterday he will not ask his lawyer
to defend him against charges of defamation and disinformation brought
by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, in a case stemming from a
2008 complaint that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court announced last week
it would hear on April 5.

Sam Rainsy, president of the eponymous
political party, said yesterday he would not ask his lawyer to attend
the trial “because it’s the same case with the same foregone
conclusion”.

“As a matter of legal and judicial principle,
nobody can be condemned twice for the same offence,” Sam Rainsy, who
currently lives in self-exile in Paris, said by email.

The
Municipal Court issued a summons on March 23 ordering Sam Rainsy to
appear in court to face charges brought under Articles 62 and 63 of the
UNTAC code.

In 2008, Hor Namhong filed a defamation lawsuit in
France over a passage of Sam Rainsy’s autobiography, Rooted in Stone,
which alleged that Hor Namhong headed the Boeung Trabek prison during
the Khmer Rouge reign.

Sam Rainsy was fined and last year lost his appeal.

The
Foreign Minister also filed suit in Cambodian courts in 2008 over a
speech by Sam Rainsy that year delivered at the Choeung Ek “killing
fields”, which referenced an alleged relationship between Hor Namhong
and the Khmer Rouge leadership.

Deputy court prosecutor Ek
Chheng Huot declined to comment yesterday and referred questions to
Judge Seng Neang, who could not be reached.

Kar Savuth, Hor Namhong’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The
latest case against the embattled opposition leader complicates his
appeal for a political settlement that would allow him to return to the
Kingdom ahead of upcoming elections in 2012 and 2013.

Sam Rainsy
faces a pair of jail terms totalling 12 years, handed down last year in
connection with a protest he staged at the Vietnamese border in 2009.
He was stripped of his parliamentary seat this month as a result of the
convictions.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for
Human Rights, said yesterday the charges were “mainly to pile up more
pressure on Sam Rainsy not to return”, but not necessarily an
indication that the government has ruled out a deal.

Sam Rainsy said “inevitable” political change in Cambodia would bring about a resolution.

“A
political solution depends on the political situation. There will
inevitably be an evolution in the political situation in Cambodia as
shown and announced by recent and ongoing developments worldwide
(Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc),” Sam Rainsy said.

Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News, Politic, Sam Rainsy

Opposition dilemma

March 26, 2011 Leave a comment
Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha has invited  members of the
Kingdom’s largest opposition group, the Sam Rainsy Party, to defect to
the HRP following the announcement this week that ex-SRP lawmaker Mao
Monyvann would join the party.

Mao Monyvann, formerly an SRP
parliamentarian from Kampong Cham province, resigned from his post
earlier this month before holding a press conference this week to
criticise the SRP leadership, accusing lawmakers Yim Sovann and Eng
Chhay Eang of wielding excessive control over the party. In the
aftermath of his comments, the SRP asked him to resign from the party
and he joined the HRP.

SRP head Sam Rainsy now lives abroad to
avoid a pair of jail terms totalling 12 years that were handed down
against him last year in connection with a protest he staged at the
Vietnamese border in 2009. He was stripped of his parliamentary seat
earlier this month as a result of his convictions.

“The HRP will become the biggest opposition party in Cambodia if Sam Rainsy cannot return,” Kem Sokha said.

“We do not want him to be absent –  I want to have him here as a
partner,” Kem Sokha added. “But if he is not present, I believe the HRP
will play an important role in pressing for a change from the current
leadership.”

Yim Sovann said Kem Sokha was “dreaming” if he
thought the HRP could become the Kingdom’s largest opposition party,
noting that the HRP only holds three seats in the National Assembly
compared with the SRP’s 25.

The spat raises questions about the
proposed merger between the parties, which have been in talks for
months but have yet to reach an agreement.

Merger talks between
the HRP and SRP have stalled in part due to disagreements about the
leadership structure of a unified party. SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said
yesterday that his party was still committed to the negotiations, but
that Mao Monyvann’s public criticisms this week had prompted a
reassessment of the proposal.

“The HRP used Mao Monyvann’s attack and broadcasted it on the radio, and it is not right to act this way,” Son Chhay said.

Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the recent bickering among the opposition parties showed that a merger was unlikely.

“They
cannot live together, and it has been this way for a long time,” he
said. “The SRP has 25 parliamentarians and they do not allow a party
with three parliamentarians to control them.”

Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News, Politic
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