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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Clear message seen in CPP sackings

Clear message seen in CPP sackings

The recent sacking of a fourth CPP senator with dual nationality was a clear message

to other dual nationality members to keep quiet and follow the party line, said a

CPP source.

"The CPP is worried that its strength will be undermined if dual nationalities

inside the party feel they have the right to speak out or talk to people outside

it," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "I think the CPP feels

it is time to clear out dual nationalities because they might foment a split as has

happened with other parties in the past.

"Expelling members ensures others are loyal to the party," he said, adding

that an estimated 10-15 percent of CPP senators, MPs and high officials held dual

nationality.

Senator Keo San was sacked January 4 after he questioned expenditure related to the

Royal Palace during debate on the 2002 Budget the previous week. He had asked Minister

of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon why the Palace needed 50 vehicles for two royals.

The source added that if the dual nationalities had more freedom to talk, they would

likely raise questions about corruption, partisan decisions and human rights abuses,

all sensitive issues for the party. He said freedom of expression had been restricted

for the past six months.

"In my view, high-ranking CPP officials have started to strengthen their power

by marrying their children to each other and extending blood relations," he

said, adding such moves could endanger reform of the government. "It is always

dangerous for society when power and corruption connect."

However, CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith, denied that interpretation of recent events.

Although many CPP members held dual citizenship, party guidelines stated that anyone

who spoke out against party policy would face being sacked. He said the policy of

both the CPP and its coalition partner Funcinpec was not to criticize the Royal Palace.

Keo San, a doctor with both French and Cambodian citizenship, is now working at his

clinic in Takhmau town. He told the Post that he was still loyal to the CPP despite

being sacked from his position and the party.

"I don't feel that I criticized the King," said San. "I merely made

a request. However a Funcinpec senator made things difficult after I brought up the

question of Royal Palace expenditure."

San, an experienced legislator, served as deputy chairman of the National Assembly

between 1966-1972. The CPP expelled three other senators December 8 for failing to

respect party discipline. They were Cambodian-Americans Phay Siphan and Chhang Song,

and Cambodian-Australian Savath Poeu.

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