The former senior adviser to the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kong Korm, has been named the honorary president of the Khmer Will Party (KWP).
The appointment came after Korm and his son Kong Bora became the first of 118 banned senior CNRP officials to have their political rights returned following rehabilitation by King Norodom Sihamoni earlier this month.
In a press release dated January 27, the KWP – founded by his other son Kong Monika just before the July 29 national elections – said Korm’s appointment was unanimously approved during its board of directors’ meeting, which aimed to revamp the party’s structure ahead of the upcoming municipal, provincial and district council elections.
Although Korm cannot manage the party as honorary president, Monika expressed optimism that his father’s political expertise will motivate the KWP to fulfil its work more effectively.
“He’s a veteran politician and a former senior CNRP adviser who has practical experience of political issues,” he said, adding that besides advisory roles Korm is tasked with visiting KWP activists and constituents.
Monika also expressed hope during an interview with The Post on Monday that his father will help draw support from former CNRP officials in time for the council elections on May 26.
He said mounting pressure resulting from their alleged involvement in a plot by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – co-founded and led by its former president Sam Rainsy – to overthrow the government through a colour revolution may also prompt them to jump ship.
“They [former CNRP supporters] may take refuge in the Khmer Will Party that could lead them to positive changes,” he said.
‘Scepticism they can gain support’
Kin Phea, the director-general of the Institute of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, expressed scepticism that the KWP will be able to garner support from former CNRP council members who had either defected to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) or lost their seats to it after the CNRP’s dissolution.
“I don’t think they will win any seat or vote because all council members already belong to the CPP. Even if some are from the former CNRP, it’s far from certain that they will vote for the KWP."
“I think [former CNRP officials’] participation in the KWP may make people get to know the party gradually but it will not get any vote,” he said.
Phea said that Korm’s defection would not draw support from former CNRP council members, citing his lack of popularity among them.
Political analyst Em Sovannara agreed, saying Korm joined his son’s party without any support from former CNRP activists. He said Cambodian people do not value a person who defects.
“Looking back at the election results, the KWP did not receive any [seats] in the National Assembly."
“Besides, all the [CNRP’s commune council] seats are no longer held by the CNRP [after the party’s dissolution] and now belong to the CPP. Some of the CNRP seats were also taken by Funcinpec, so the KWP does not stand a chance,” he said.