Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Law change ‘welcomed’ by Kem Sokha as it goes for review

Law change ‘welcomed’ by Kem Sokha as it goes for review

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Heng Samrin, President of National Assembly. Heng Chivoan

Law change ‘welcomed’ by Kem Sokha as it goes for review

The Permanent Committee of the National Assembly met on Wednesday to discuss the proposed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties – something “supported and welcomed” by former opposition leader Kem Sokha – and put it up for review by its parliamentary commission.

The amendment would allow individual politicians who have been barred by the Supreme Court to re-enter politics before the term of their ban is complete, provided they receive a pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni through a request made by the prime minister.

Speaking through his lawyers on Wednesday, Sokha, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), who is currently on bail awaiting trial on treason charges, “supported and welcomed” the proposed government amendment, which could allow banned CNRP politicians to resume their political careers.

Pheng Heng, one of Sokha’s defence lawyers, told The Post on Wednesday that his client was aware of the development and considered it a “solution promoting freedom and human rights”.

“[Sokha] supports and welcomes [the proposed law change]. As per his vision and stance, he will always welcome all solutions promoting freedom, human rights and multi-party democracy,” Heng said.

The amendment was proposed by 87 CPP lawmakers, represented by Cheam Yeap and Pen Panha, on Monday.

Around 30 minutes after the meeting ended on Wednesday, 13 members of the Permanent Committee, led by the president of the National Assembly, Heng Samrin, approved the proposal and forwarded it to the expert committee for review, before its possible adoption at the next plenary session.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, ruling party lawmaker Chheang Vun said the amendment aimed to fill “gaps” in the law and encourage banned politicians who have “corrected” themselves by obeying the law.

“After Supreme Court convictions, we need to encourage the convicted who have corrected themselves by respecting the law."

“If they have obeyed the law, we have to encourage them. If we do not encourage them, it means that those banned people will find no incentive to correct themselves. They have put in the effort to correct themselves, as they want something in return and hope to benefit by having their ban lifted,” he said.

Vun said the amendment would not allow a dissolved party to reform under the same name, and only individuals would be affected by the change to the law.

He rejected the notion that the move came as a result of international pressure.

“Cambodia is led by Samdech Techo Hun Sen. We have never positioned ourselves because of foreign pressure. We usually only focus on our own sovereignty and independence. All Cambodians should adhere perfectly to this vision,” he said.

Vun said that after the new law takes effect, the Ministry of Interior or Ministry of Justice would be able to request the Prime Minister to ask for a pardon from the King. “[The ministries] will review all cases as to who is eligible for a pardon,” he said.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Tuesday hinted that the majority of the 118 former senior CNRP officials banned by the Supreme Court from politics for five years might be able to resume their careers, while only a small number would not.

“Among the 118 [CNRP] politicians [barred from politics], only a few have not respected the Supreme Court’s decision, while most of them have. In fact, the majority has respected the court’s decision and we need to accept this truth,” Sar Kheng said.


  • Ethnic group ‘disappointed’ to be denied French visas to attend court

    Eleven people at the centre of a case involving seven indigenous Bunong villages in Mondulkiri province pursuing legal action in France have expressed disappointment after the French embassy in Phnom Penh denied their visa applications to attend court. A press release said the 11 included a

  • Cambodia nabs 12th place in best retirement destinations

    Cambodia is an expatriate hotspot for those dreaming of living a more luxurious lifestyle at an affordable cost, according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. For the fourth year in a row, Cambodia took the top spot in the Cost of Living category.

  • EU starts EBA withdrawal

    The EU on Monday announced that it has begun the 18-month process of withdrawing the Kingdom’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement over “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”. However, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said

  • PM: War result of foreign meddling

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that Cambodia’s recent history of conflict was caused by foreign interference. “The wars that happened were caused by provocation, incitement, support, smearing and interference from foreign powers, and the group of ignorant people who pushed Cambodia to