Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan on Thursday reiterated the prime minister’s statement that a “package deal” for banned opposition politicians to return to politics would not be possible.
He also labelled Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) acting president Sam Rainsy’s alleged attempt to secure one a “dishonest trick” that had been “defeated”.
Eysan’s statement came a day after the prime minister declared that any of the banned 118 former CNRP politicians who plan to return to Cambodian politics must apply to do so on an individual basis, not as a group.
Speaking in Kandal province to more than 15,600 factory workers from there and Kampong Speu province on Wednesday, the prime minister outlined the route to restoration for the politicians.
He told the crowd: “[The former CNRP politicians] must make a request one by one, not make a request as a ‘package deal’.”
Hun Sen explained that they must “make a request to the Ministry of Interior individually, then the prime minister, on the recommendation of the ministry, can request a pardon from the King”.
On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties that could pave the way for many of the 118 banned CNRP politicians to return to politics, but only if they are deemed to have respected the Supreme Court’s initial ruling.
Reiterating the prime minister’s comments, Eysan wrote via messaging platform Telegram on Thursday: “Now it is clear. [Hun Sen] has confirmed it already: no pardon is offered as a package for banned politicians."
“It will be done on a one-by-one basis based upon each person’s characteristics. This process eliminates any possibility that Sam Rainsy’s trick aiming to control the 118 officials will work."
“Sam Rainsy’s trick has been defeated. Despite the bitter defeat, this convict keeps claiming himself as the representative of 118 banned officials so he can negotiate with Hun Sen as he did via Twitter.”
Eysan was referring to his comments last week when he said that Rainsy had messaged the prime minister via Twitter, requesting a pardon for all 118 of the CNRP’s banned politicians.
But former opposition activist Sin Chan Pov Rozeth, who was former O’Char commune chief in Battambang province, said Eysan’s statement was one-sided.
“These are just remarks made by a ruling party spokesperson. The CNRP acting president [Sam Rainsy] has already made it clear that he would never negotiate with the ruling party and would rather let the ruling party deal with the international community,” she said.
In his statement, Eysan called on the authorities at all levels to prevent and take action against those who post pro-Rainsy video clips.
He said posting such clips and messages is against the law because the CNRP has already been dissolved by the court. He added that expressing support for the acting president of the court-dissolved party is therefore also illegal.
Ly Meng Yieng from Kandal province’s Sa’ang district was questioned by police for four hours on December 18 for posting a pro-Rainsy video on Facebook.
In the video clip, which lasts more than a minute, Meng Yieng says he and former CNRP commune officials in Sa’ang district supported Rainsy’s return to the party as the acting president.
As a result, authorities then ordered the activist to sign a contract to stop posting video clips supporting the CNRP.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post that the authorities have taken unspecified measures to prevent illegal activities.
“But it depends as to when or how we will take action. We will do it in accordance with the law. Meng Yieng’s activities are [against] the law so we needed to call him in for questioning but we didn’t punish him. We educated him just so he understands [the law] and promises not to do anything against the law.”
Social analyst Ok Sereisopheak declined to comment on Rainsy’s request to negotiate with the prime minister. But he said it is not illegal for former opposition party activists to post video clips in support of their leaders.
“All of them are former opposition party activists and their actions are nothing illegal because it’s their freedom. They just express their support. It’s their right,” he said.
However, Sereisopheak stressed that while opposition activists can post messages in support of Sam Rainsy, it would be illegal for them to post messages in support of the party as it has already been dissolved by the Supreme Court.
While no legal action has been taken against those that post videos in support of Rainsy or the CNRP, opposition activists view the police action to educate Meng Yieng as an attempt to intimidate them.