Opposition party defector Van Sam Oeun yesterday slammed reports that his recent move to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was due to alleged bankruptcy and that he had been “bought” by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The former lawmaker, who resigned from the National Assembly last week, finally broke his silence almost a week after announcing he was leaving the Cambodia National Rescue Party.
The Cambodian-American said those who had alleged he joined the CPP for material benefits had caused him to lose face, and maintained that he gave up his National Assembly seat in order to better be able to serve the national interest. Radio Free Asia reported this week that Sam Oeun’s pig farm in Kampot province had gone bankrupt, precipitating his move. He dismissed such suggestions yesterday, citing the US pension he currently receives as proof he had not defected for financial reasons.
“I feed 20 to 30 pigs [on my farm]. How much money could I have lost to make me join [the CPP]? If all of you want to see, come to see my [farm] and what I lost. They [who made the claims] have looked down on me,” he said.
As an engineer in the US for 34 years, he earned a salary of more than $10,000 a month, Sam Oeun added.
“I joined [the CPP] because I want to help the nation,” said the first-time lawmaker, who won a seat representing Kampot province in the 2013 national election.
“I thought that the Cambodian parliament was the same as parliaments in other countries and that’s why I joined the parliament. But having a seat in parliament has been a waste of my time.”
Sam Oeun would not elaborate on why being a Cambodian parliamentarian had been different than he had expected. However, earlier this week, Hun Sen said that Sam Oeun told him that he had encountered difficulties sharing ideas in the CNRP, with the premier alluding to “internal” issues in the party.
Although Sam Oeun is being appointed vice-chairman at the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, he claimed to not have asked Hun Sen for any position in their meeting before his resignation.