Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kem Sokha’s Human Rights Party decides to close

Kem Sokha’s Human Rights Party decides to close

The Human Rights Party, pictured here voting on a party decision in 2013, has voted to dissolve their party, according to President Son Soubert (left).
The Human Rights Party, pictured here voting on a party decision in 2013, has voted to dissolve their party, according to President Son Soubert (left). Pha Lina

Kem Sokha’s Human Rights Party decides to close

The Human Rights Party closed yesterday of its own accord, officially removing itself from any conversation about potential challengers to the ruling party in the absence of the CNRP.

The move was met with mixed responses yesterday – with some lamenting the loss of a “back-up” opposition election contender, while others argued the party at least would not be playing the pawn in the ruling Cambodian People’s Party games.

Founded over 10 years ago by currently imprisoned opposition leader Kem Sokha, the HRP merged with the Sam Rainsy Party in 2012 to form the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

It has long said that it would disband following the 2017 commune elections, though the CNRP’s surprise dissolution last year at the government’s behest complicated the party’s plans of rejoining the main opposition.

HRP President Son Soubert said a permanent committee vote took place on Sunday to decide the party’s fate, with seven votes to four in favour of dissolving, and a letter was filed to the Ministry of Interior yesterday.

Soubert said there was “no pressure” to disband but that most of its members had been absorbed into the now-defunct CNRP and the HRP did not want to give any credence to flawed elections.

“The dictator regime will not succeed. It is like the Khmer Rouge,” Soubert said.

Kem Monovithya, a CNRP official and daughter of Sokha, elaborated that to keep the party running “would only play into the façade of a fake multi-party picture”.

“[The] CNRP stance is very clear, we are calling for the reinstatement of CNRP,” she said via message. “We are not going back to HRP or SRP as our opponent wishes.”

Opposition deputy leader Mu Sochua said the HRP would continue to symbolise human rights, and that its dissolution amounted to “political persecution” by the ruling CPP.

The Grassroots Democracy Party last week called for the HRP and Candlelight Party (formerly SRP) to rejoin forces for the election. Candlelight Party President Teav Vannol said yesterday that his party would “wait and see” if the political crisis improved before it would commit to either joining or boycotting the July 29 election.

While GDP Secretary-General Sam Inn agreed that there was no logical reason to keep the two smaller parties intact before the CNRP was dissolved, the elimination of the opposition party was a game-changer.

“Of course we need to demand free and fair election processes,” he said. “But we also do not see any other better option than joining the election.”

“Cambodia suffered a lot from the violent regime. All regime changes took place through violence . . . If we boycott and do not face the elections, what option do we have?”

Some social media users expressed dismay at what they saw as the HRP falling on its sword.

“I regret the decision to dissolve the HRP like this. In a democratic society, politicians should not shut down its existence like this,” said Facebook user Chhoeun Chhum.

Political analyst Ou Virak said he had expected the HRP to endure as a back-up plan, and called the “all or nothing” ultimatum “bold”.

“I think the strategy or thinking behind it is that they want to pressure the Cambodian government, to say ‘there’s no alternative’ . . . Cambodians might hold onto hope about Kem Sokha [rejoining his old party], but they’ve taken away that option, that hope,” he said.

“You can either reinstate the CNRP or you don’t have any real opposition . . . It’s a gamble.”

Yet CPP spokesman Suos Yara was unfazed by the prospects of criticism of a shrinking democratic space. “Self dissolution of the party has nothing to do with one party system,” he said in a message.

MOST VIEWED

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Kingdom’s exports to US mushroom 25.94% in first five months to $2.4B

    Though Cambodia’s exports to other countries have been stalled amid the evolving Covid-19 environment, the Kingdom’s shipments to the US were worth 25.94 per cent more in the first five months of this year than they were in the year-ago period. Bilateral trade between

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was

  • Accused not treated equally, says CCHR

    The Cambodia Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has urged the Court of Appeal to do more to ensure that an accused’s right to a fair trial is fully respected. In a bulletin released on Monday, the CCHR said it had monitored 273 cases at the