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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mu Sochua poised to join Sam Rainsy

Mu Sochua poised to join Sam Rainsy

MU.jpg
MU.jpg

Former Women's Affairs Minister Mu Sochua, who has remained silent about her political

future since she was left out of the coalition government lineup on July 15, made

it clear this week that she is about to defect from Funcinpec to the opposition Sam

Rainsy Party.

Mu Sochua ... 'I am not a lone voice.'

In an interview with the Post she revealed that, rather than being dumped, she had

declined an offer of her old cabinet position. She talked about her strong political

principles, constitutional issues, and declared her disappointment with Funcinpec.

She returned to Cambodia on August 7 and has kept a low profile. Sochua has been

in the USA where she attended the Democratic Party national convention in Boston

with Sam Rainsy.

She is believed to be waiting for party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh to return

from somewhere overseas so she can deliver her resignation personally. Sources close

to Funcinpec said Ranariddh was in Singapore last week.

Post: Does the president of Funcinpec know you are planning a move?

"I made a decision not to be in the new cabinet and I think that is my clear

message to him. I last spoke to him two weeks before the formation of the government

[July 15]."

Where is he now?

"He must answer that."

Why is he absent at such an important time?

"The party has to answer that.

"My party offered me the Minister of Women's Affairs position for a second term.

My decision not to accept has nothing to do with not being able to pay the bribe

- which I did not pay the first time - nor of not being accepted by Hun Sen. I made

my decision to stay out of the government because democracy in Cambodia is at risk.

I could never face the people who depend on their leaders to serve with integrity.

The people of Cambodia have paid a great deal for democracy, therefore we must do

everything in our power to uphold the fundamental principles of democracy.

"I gave up a very comfortable life as minister. Even now I wake in the morning,

and think about going to work, where is my 4wd, where are my secretaries? I have

to pinch myself and say No, it's no longer available. But does it end my life? No,

it gives me more energy. I look in the mirror and I say: I have chosen a team who

have stood on principles, with difficulties, have chosen democracy. These politicians

can be the models, the hope.

"I am not a lone voice. I think we are all aware as politicians, but how much

are we true to what we say? We all have ideals, but do they match the reality of

the needs of the people? We have to be honest with ourselves and ask whether we have

performed as elected representatives.

"The voice of the people is becoming less and less heard.

"You have to be blind and deaf not to see and hear the poor. The channels for

them to express their needs have been cut off."

Post: What do you want from Hun Sen?

"I ask him to look at the reality behind the statistics. How many people is

36 percent of 13 million who are living below the poverty line; look at the infant

mortality, the maternal mortality, the unemployed numbers. These people have no alternatives.

Can they wait for the reforms that we are always promising? We have promised reforms

mandate after mandate and do you think our children can stop from growing; can we

put on hold their hunger for learning, for affection, for access to health care,

the dreams of youth?

"Hun Sen says all the right things in his speeches. But how can anything change

when it depends on the same players, for the past 15 years. I say he should be demanding

better performance from himself and his ministers."

Isn't there a danger you've made the wrong decision, and you could be left out in

the cold?

"I made the decision based on principles of equality, freedom, rights. I'm going

to work with people who share the same vision, so I don't think I will be left out

in the cold."

Post: In the light of recent political developments, does Cambodia have a Parliamentary

democracy?

"I believe that a country's highest law is the Constitution and the highest

body responsible for protecting the Constitution is the Constitutional Council. Like

other councils (ie Council of Magistracy) the composition of the CC is not independent

and neutral. We have seen many instances of how the CC functions when it comes to

the interpretation of the contents of the Constitution: ie the interpretation of

the electoral law, the holding of the last meeting of the National Assembly, the

amendment of the Constitution.

"Although there are provisions for the amendment of the Constitution, it is,

however, not acceptable to amend the supreme law to fit the desire of some individuals

or parties or groups in order to fix a political crisis. We have seen that time and

time again, the Constitution is amended to keep power or give more power for the

people in power.

"To say that the CC needs to be asked for its interpretation of the constitutionality

of the latest political development in Cambodia is to admit that the CC cannot fulfill

its function, the CC cannot guarantee to the people the protection of the Constitution.

Those members who refuse to perform with responsibility belittle the people and lack

courage. It is clear and simple.

"The CC has the fundamental responsibility and is accountable to the people

of Cambodia. When the highest body of the nation has failed to accomplish its mission

again and again, it is very clear and simple that democracy in Cambodia is facing

severe risks and is not on the right track."

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