Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - National Police ordered to analyse banned opposition members’ finances

National Police ordered to analyse banned opposition members’ finances

The former CNRP leadership — president Kem Sokha and (from left) deputies Pol Ham, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang — raise hands at a meeting in March 2017.
The former Cambodia National Rescue Party leadership — president Kem Sokha and (from left) deputies Pol Ham, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang — raise hands at a meeting in March 2017. Pha Lina

National Police ordered to analyse banned opposition members’ finances

A National Police action plan has set as a priority the collection of financial information on 118 senior ex-Cambodia National Rescue Party members, with an Interior Ministry official saying asset seizures were a possibility if party officials continued their purported “colour revolution” overseas.

The 118 senior CNRP members were banned from the political arena for five years, after the Supreme Court in November dissolved the opposition party – the only viable competitor to the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party – for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the government. Little evidence was offered to substantiate the claim, and the dissolution has prompted many to question the legitimacy of this year’s planned national elections.

The ruling party, however, has kept up the “colour revolution” drumbeat even following the dissolution, and a National Police progress report for December – obtained yesterday – contains a paragraph instructing officials to investigate “the 118” through the “analysis and evaluation” of their finances.

“Keep concentrating on national security by paying attention to information gathering, analysis and evaluation of the financial resources of those who have negative targets for the nation and government,” reads the instruction, which is listed under ongoing activities for January.

Ever since the dissolution, the government has repeatedly reminded elected ex-opposition members to submit asset declarations, which are required from officials leaving office. The declarations are routine, but are considered confidential unless a formal investigation is opened.

The development also follows a call from pro-government unions asking the government to freeze assets, block passports, ban money transfers and suspend bank accounts of the 118 former politicians for trying to lobby foreign governments to impose targeted sanctions on senior administration officials.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak yesterday confirmed the document referred to the ex-opposition members, and said the investigation into their assets was merely a continuation of the colour revolution crackdown.

In a speech on Sunday, the premier claimed that while the so-called revolution had been dismantled, “ill-willed” circles of people were still colluding to bring down the government.

“[They are] the ones who have broken the law, and the [Supreme Court] verdict has suspended their political rights; if they still contest it we will freeze their assets,” Sopheak said.

“We will consider about it, for example, who and how much money they have in the bank. This is in order to prevent a colour revolution from overseas.”

He again singled out Kem Monovithya, an opposition official and the daughter of jailed party leader Kem Sokha, as well as civil society member Pa Nguon Teang, as potential targets because of their campaigning overseas.

Many former CNRP lawmakers and members have fled overseas fearing arrest and intimidation, with some of them lobbying foreign governments to impose sanctions on those responsible for the recent political crisis.

Both the United States and European Union have already rescinded funding for the National Election Committee, and the US imposed visa restrictions on Cambodian officials found to be “undermining democracy”. Both have indicated they are considering further measures, including targeted economic sanctions.

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said it was clear the continued investigation into the alleged colour revolution showed that the government was afraid of the popular support the CNRP continued to maintain.

“But they still keep harassing us and somehow want to make all people in the CNRP, including leaders and other people, not able to survive,” he said. “They have already ended our political lives and now do not want us to live in this society.”

He added that the CNRP would submit its routine annual financial reports to the Interior Ministry, saying there was no need for an inquiry into the party’s finances.

Political observer Lao Mong Hay said there seemed to be no legal grounds for the government to look into the financial holdings of the 118 senior party officials, saying such measures were reserved for serious crimes.

“When they are looking into the accounts and banking, they have to base it on the law, such as those for money laundering crimes or terrorism crimes,” he said.

A previous version of this article misquoted Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak. It has been updated to reflect his comments. The Post apologises for any confusion caused.

MOST VIEWED

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Gold-covered boundary stone found within Angkor Thom’s West Gate

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) announced that their working group in charge of restoration work at Angkor Thom's Takav Gate or the West Gate recently found an ancient stone slab commonly known as a boundary stone. The boundary stone is 53 cm by 53 cm and 12 cm

  • Higher education leaders tour US

    With support from the US Department of State, 10 Cambodian leaders in higher education participated in the 10-day International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) in three US states from June 19 to July 1. They included nine university rectors and directors of higher education institutions who are members of