Prince Sisowath Thomico has vowed to declare his assets to the Anti-Corruption Unit and resign from his royal responsibilities, freeing himself of two issues that have harried him since he joined the opposition as a candidate earlier this month.
The outgoing personal secretary to Queen Mother Norodom Monineath made the decision after Prime Minister Hun Sen accused him in a May 16 speech of dragging the palace into his campaign for a seat in Preah Sihanouk province on the Cambodia National Rescue Party ticket.
A few days after the speech, Thomico, a nephew of and former aide to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, received a letter dated May 20 commanding him to declare his assets to the ACU or face possible imprisonment and fines.
As an independent body, Thomico has argued, the palace falls outside the jurisdiction of the ACU, a position he has maintained since the Kingdom’s anti-corruption law came into force in 2011.
“I have opposed this law since 2011,” Prince Thomico said yesterday.
“But now, they raised this case in 2013, when I joined the Cambodia National Rescue Party,” he said, adding that the move was clearly political, and his compliance had more to do with getting the ACU off his back.
“So I have nothing to refuse. I’ll completely submit to [the president of the ACU] His Excellency Om Yentieng so he can sleep easily.”
Assets declared to the Anti-Corruption Unit are not made public, which has led rights groups and observers to question whether the rule adds to the Kingdom’s transparency.
The warning letter from the ACU to Thomico states that he is the only one of 149 palace officials to have not confidentially filed financial documents to the graft watchdog.
Regarding his departure from the royal palace, Thomico said he did not want to drag the reputations of the Queen Mother and King Norodom Sihamoni into politics.
The prince stressed that he had not met with them to discuss his choice but believed they would be “happy” with his decision.
One person who definitely isn’t happy with Thomico is ACU President Om Yentieng, who called allegations that the ACU was a political tool “worthless”.
“When the prince acts like this, the prince doesn’t value himself,” he said.
“Please don’t be defiant.”