Former opposition lawmaker Van Sam Oeun, who defected to join the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Friday, met secretly with Prime Minister Hun Sen prior to issuing his resignation letter, opposition officials have alleged.
Sam Oeun was offered a senior job at a state development agency to sweeten the deal, a senior CPP official also confirmed yesterday.
The former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker, a Cambodian-American who was elected to represent a constituency in Kampot province in the 2013 elections, announced his resignation in a letter sent to National Assembly President Heng Samrin and First Deputy President Kem Sokha on Friday.
He said he was resigning because he had not been able “to serve our country according to [his] will and experience”.
A senior CNRP official, who declined to be named, yesterday said the defection came after a three-hour face-to-face meeting with Hun Sen at a private residence in Phnom Penh on Friday.
“He met [Hun Sen] for three hours [on Friday],” the official said. “He told him that he wished to defect for personal reasons.”
Sam Oeun could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Chea Poch, a CNRP lawmaker in Kampot who is also the provincial party president, said Sam Oeun had also been appointed as vice chairman of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), a government body headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly.
“He resigned not because of the party,” Poch claimed. “He said that he has wants to serve the nation fully in the Cambodian People’s Party because he has not served the nation fully in the Cambodia National Rescue Party.”
He added that the party had not yet decided who would replace the former lawmaker.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann was quick to dismiss the defection.
“It does not affect the party. We are getting more votes at every election. We cannot know the reason for his defection; only he knows the truth,” he said.
Chhim Phal Virun, spokesman for the ruling CPP, confirmed that Sam Oeun had been appointed to the vice presidency of CARD.
“[Sam Oeun] said that if he stayed in the opposition party he would not have the chance to serve Cambodia according to his wishes and experience,” Phal Virun said. “The royal government, led by the Cambodian People’s Party, offers him virtue.”