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CNRP lawmaker hit in pocket for Samrin comments

Outspoken opposition lawmaker Um Sam An was yesterday banned from parliament for 15 sessions, and saw his salary halved for two months, for “insulting” National Assembly president Heng Samrin.

According to an order signed by Samrin yesterday, Sam An affected the honour of the National Assembly and insulted the president with remarks posted to social media on July 14.

The remarks, which Sam An yesterday called “constructive criticism”, accused Samrin of abusing the constitution by refusing to forward a letter signed by several opposition members to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The letter, sent on July 6, demanded the premier explain and cease the demarcation process with Vietnam, an issue the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and particularly Sam An, has used to attack the government in recent weeks.

Sam An had also threatened to lodge a complaint against Samrin with the constitutional council.

Assessed by the National Assembly’s legal council, Sam An’s comments violated article 87 of the constitution, article 5 of the civil servant status law and articles 77 and 78 of the internal regulations of the assembly, according to the order.

On top of the ban and salary cut, a record of Sam An’s mistake will be broadcast and posted in all communes of his constituency in Siem Reap province, the order adds, before noting: “Um Sam An and National Assembly secretariat must implement the decision effectively.”

According to an online copy of the parliament’s internal regulations, MPs can be punished for humiliating the president.

However, the regulations stipulate parliamentarians should be warned three times before being punished for “mistakes”, a provision Sam An, responding yesterday, said wasn’t being followed.

“My post on social media is a constructive criticism and did not to look down on the president,” he added.

Spokesman for the National Assembly Chheang Vun, a ruling party lawmaker who has repeatedly chided Sam An over the episode, said he would try to arrange a compromise.

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