A former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker has said he will form a new political party after requesting political rehabilitation last week, while more pardon requests were predicted to be filed on Monday.
Real Camerin, the former CNRP representative for Svay Rieng province and one of 118 CNRP officials originally banned from all involvement in politics for five years after the party’s dissolution by the Supreme Court in 2017, submitted a rehabilitation request to the Ministry of Interior on Thursday.
“I would like to request Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng to review and request my political rehabilitation before having served the Supreme Court’s ruling as I have the intention to form a new political party to compete in the 2022 [commune] and 2023 [national] elections,” he wrote.
Talking to The Post on Sunday, Camerin said he wouldn’t join any existing party, but rather would form his own should King Norodom Sihamoni grant him a royal pardon.
“I think [the remaining banned officials] should consider [rehabilitation] carefully. I think it is a way to find an acceptable solution for both the government and the opposition [CNRP]."
“If we join together to solve [the problem], there is no question of [being] ‘expensive’ or ‘cheap’ as this is something affecting our nation,” Camerin said.
Sam Rainsy, “acting president” of the CNRP, has warned that those who sought political rehabilitation would “betray the party and the will of the people” and called those who did so “cheap” and “shortsighted”. But Camerin said he believed the opposite was true.
“Those who say I am betraying [the party and the people] are confused and haven’t thought clearly and in the long term. Actually, what I have decided to do is the correct decision and will bring about a solution [to the problem affecting] the nation,” he said.
Ou Chanrith, a former lawmaker for Takeo province, said he was also considering making a request for political rehabilitation as he did not want to see the current situation reach an impasse, something that would negatively impact the interests of the people and the nation.
“I believe that if there is no solution to the current situation, there should be attempts to find one and improve the situation, as well as to build trust among Cambodians and open dialogue that is acceptable by all sides,” he said.
One of the 118 said anonymously recently that 47 banned CNRP officials were preparing to make rehabilitation requests, but they may do so at different times. He said that around 10 would do so on Monday.
Khieu Sopheak told The Post on Sunday that no other had submitted request besides Camerin.
Political analyst Sok Sakoun said that if more banned politicians were to seek rehabilitation it could deal a damaging blow to Rainsy’s political career.
“The way I understand it is that there is a line drawn for Rainsy. [He] won’t be included in a political package [for rehabilitation] unless the government is under extreme pressure [from the international community],” he said.
Kin Phea, director-general of the Institute of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said those seeking political rehabilitation would likely no longer listen to Rainsy.
“This means Rainsy’s influence on the members of his party is fading,” he said.
He added that Rainsy pressuring CNRP politicians against making rehabilitation requests was intended to make the political situation in Cambodia seem negative to the international community and place pressure on the government.
“If more banned politicians are granted rehabilitation, there is less reason for the EU to go ahead with withdrawing Cambodia’s access to its [preferential] ‘Everything But Arms’ agreement,” he said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said he thought it was realism that compelled younger CNRP politicians to abandon the party in order to continue their political careers.