The Phnom Penh Municipal Court declined to hear the complaint filed by four former FUNCINPEC party officials requesting that the court issue an order to determine whether they retain their membership and position as board members despite their expulsion by the late Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
The four officials in question are Chap Nhalyvuth, Heng Chantha, Say Hak and Phan Sethy – all of whom were FUNCINPEC board members until Prince Ranariddh announced their expulsion from the party for attempting to merge FUNCINPEC with the Khmer National United Party (KNUP) in September of this year without his authorisation.
They then filed a complaint to the court on October 22 seeking adjudication over the party’s decision, which they claimed was procedurally illegitimate.
In a ruling issued on December 17, municipal court vice-president Koy Sao said the court has declined to hear the complaint because jurisdiction over the matter fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior according to the law.
Phan Sethy, one of the complainants, told The Post on December 20 that he accepted the court’s decision, saying he and the other former board members would file an appeal with the interior ministry this week to request that it review the circumstances of their membership in the party. He expected that a determination would be issued before the commune council elections in 2022.
Sethy alleged that Prince Ranariddh and his son Prince Norodom Chakravuth – who is expected to be confirmed as party president at its congress in January – were unreasonably strict in expelling members who have been with the party for many years.
“Prince Norodom Chakravuth did not talk to us about our mistakes but just expelled us. He should have told us what we did wrong,” he said.
Sethy said his intention was to find a mutually agreeable solution to resolve the case with Prince Norodom Chakravuth amiably as soon as possible in order assist with preparation of the party’s candidates for the upcoming elections, but Prince Chakravuth did not seem willing to discuss the situation.
“The sooner we resolve this dispute, the better it will be for the party. If it is prolonged, this split could negatively impact the fielding of commune council election candidates. No one is to blame here but it is weakening the party,” he said.
FUNCINPEC spokesman Nhoeun Raden told The Post on December 20 that the court’s decision not to hear the complaints was acceptable and lawful and that the four have the right to file a complaint with the ministry to get a decision on the matter.
Asked whether the four former board members could possibly return to the party, Raden said Chakravuth had always favoured unity and did not want to quarrel and that the prince only wanted to strengthen the party in order to achieve success in the future.
“Phan Sethy and his associates misread the prevailing sentiments within the party badly. The FUNCINPEC party at the helm of Prince Chakravuth has no problems [among its members] other than Phan Sethy’s unhappiness. They should stop complaining to the authorities and come to the Prince and explain the reasons for their conduct to him and that’s it,” he said.