Funcinpec spokesman Nheb Bun Chin said yesterday that the royalist party is seeking clarification from the government after changes to the Political Parties Law passed by the National Assembly on Monday could render its logo illegal.
A minor change to the law, which was explicitly altered to sideline former opposition leader Sam Rainsy from politics, also bans political parties using the image of any individual in their logo, in addition to long-standing bans on the use of religious icons, Angkor Wat and Cambodian kings.
Funcinpec in November unveiled a new logo that features the face of its party leader, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and the party then installed new signs with the logo across the country before the June 4 commune elections – a costly exercise for a party with a diminishing support base.
“To change the logo at this time would be very tough,” said Bun Chin, explaining that the party was drafting a letter to Hun Sen to request clarification. “In order to replace them all, it would cost $100,000 at least.”
“We are very concerned,” he said.
Bun Chin said that while the former coalition partner of the ruling party supported clamping down on involvement of people who have criminal convictions, “if nobody can use their own picture for a logo – that is completely different”.
The law already banned the use of “religious icons” in logos, and opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said yesterday that the Cambodian People’s Party itself may have been violating the law by using an image of a devada angel as its logo – adding there was an obvious double standard at play if so.
“It seems that the CPP have been violating the law by using the angel, and that needs to be clarified by the Constitutional Council – if the Ministry of Interior should have allowed this party to register,” Chhay said. “This has been the case all the way . . . it’s two ways of implementation.”
However, CPP spokesman Suos Yara said the party’s use of the devada did not constitute a violation of the law.
“No, that is not religious, it just represents the angel . . . Our logo is not related to anything religious or non-religious,” Yara said. Asked if the amendment could impact Funcinpec with its logo, he said only: “the law is really for all”.
Political analyst Meas Ny said he believed it was already clear the law was designed to clamp down on the CPP’s competitors ahead of the national election on July 22 next year, but said it remained to be seen if “the law was equal for all parties or if it is just used as a way for the CPP to rule”.