A former adviser to the Supreme Court- dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) announced on Thursday his intention to return to politics, the same day the National Assembly approved a law allowing for the return of a host of banned opposition politicians.
Kong Korm – an adviser to the governing Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) until he joined the opposition in the 1990s – announced his intention to rejoin political life after the proposed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties was adopted by the National Assembly on Thursday.
In an interview with The Post on Thursday, Korm – who is among the 118 politicians who were banned from Cambodian politics by the Supreme Court in November 2017 – welcomed the adoption of the law and claimed that he will “make a request” to Interior Minister Sar Kheng to resume his political career.
“I am not thinking of ending my political life, so as long as I am banned by the Supreme Court, I am very careful. Therefore, I will wait to be reinstated in order to return to the political stage. At the moment, the amendment is made, and I am determined and ready to follow the procedures to be reinstated,” he said.
However, Korm confirmed that he does not intend to go back to the CNRP, but will become an adviser to the newly established Khmer Will Party (KWP), founded by his son Kong Monika this year.
“My intention is to become an adviser of KWP . . . if the CNRP struggles it is their business. I can only be adviser of KWP, of which my son is the president."
“This party [the KWP] presents a chance for former CNRP members who do not wish to wait for the CNRP to reactivate to become involved in politics again. It’s a new chance and choice for people who used to support CNRP to compete for positive change in Cambodia in the future,” he said.
Sam Rainsy, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) established in 2018, as well as the newly elected acting president of the CNRP in exile, on Tuesday labelled the banned politicians who are set to return to politics through this amendment “betrayers” of the CNRP.
“People want to be free without thinking about the fate of Kem Sokha and our party – those people [who take advantage of the law change] will walk on the path designed by Hun Sen, and they also agree to play the game designed by Hun Sen. Those people are not stupid, they will start to betray the CNRP,” he said.
Kong Korm, a previously close ally of Sam Rainsy, reacted strongly to his nomination as CNRP acting president earlier this month, saying it was a sign of the party’s “split” and “lost solidarity”.
Sam Rainsy took over as CNRP chief from previous president Kem Sokha, who has been under house arrest since September on charges of treason.
Kong Korm was recently quoted as saying: “The CNRP conference was held in Atlanta [US] by Sam Rainsy’s group, which shows that the coalition between the Human Rights Party [Kem Sokha’s political faction] and the Sam Rainsy Party [Sam Rainsy’s political faction] has split. It is now no different from the ruling party … so they cannot make a positive change.
“No matter if he is CNRM president or acting CNRP president, he [Sam Rainsy] is a subjective choice. Sam Rainsy and some of his subordinates have caused an internal rift among the party leaders, there is fighting between pro-Rainsy and pro-Sokha. I see clearly that the CNRP has lost its identity and solidarity.”
On Thursday, Sam Rainsy appealed in a Facebook post to all 118 former CNRP members to reject the reinstatement of their political rights by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“Please, all 118 CNRP officials don’t accept the reinstatement of your political rights from Hun Sen. This is a political right that you already have, on behalf of the people that you defend. There really is only one resolution … to push the international community to make Hun Sen afraid,” he wrote.