Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New NEC members insist they are neutral

New NEC members insist they are neutral

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former Funcinpec member Nuth Sokhom (right), former deputy director of the government's human rights council Dim Sovannarom (centre) and Cambodian Nationality Party member Hel Sarat greet lawmakers at the National Assembly session where they were confirmed appointees to the National Election Commission, replacing three CNRP-nominated members who resigned in protest of the party’s dissolution. Photo supplied

New NEC members insist they are neutral

The last formal reshuffling of power following the opposition party’s dissolution was completed yesterday, as three National Election Committee members were confirmed into office and 11 additional CPP lawmakers were sworn in to the National Assembly.

Nuth Sokhom, former Funcinpec lawmaker; Hel Sarat, formerly of the Cambodian Nationality Party; and Dim Sovannarom, former deputy director of the government’s human rights body, were all confirmed to the NEC, replacing three CNRP-nominated members who resigned in protest of the party’s dissolution in November.

With the addition of Sovannarom, who according to a former colleague ran a CPP election campaign in Takeo province in 2013, five of the nine NEC members now have strong ties to the ruling CPP. The nine-member body is supposed to be made up of four nominees from the ruling party and four from the opposition, with one “neutral” representative from civil society.

In interviews outside of the National Assembly yesterday, all three members defended the new makeup of the NEC. When asked if the body could still be considered neutral after the resignation of CNRP-nominated members, Sokhom responded cryptically.

“Do you know the word ‘struggle’? Struggle means difficulty and sacrifices in life. I will follow my conscience,” he said. “I will do my best to serve,” he added, when pressed further, before walking away from reporters.

Meanwhile, Sovannarom, whose position on the Cambodian Human Rights Committee was equal to secretary of state, maintained he was neutral. “Everyone has a right to expression . . . But the truth is the truth. The important thing is that I think that everything has operated and proceeded correctly,” he said.

A monitor shows a session of the National Assembly in progress yesterday in Phnom Penh
A monitor shows a session of the National Assembly in progress yesterday in Phnom Penh. Sahiba Chawdhary

Sam Kuntheamy, director of election watchdog Nicfec, said the government appeared to have circumvented normal procedures in order to put another CPP-linked member on the committee.

Sovannarom was not nominated by a party and instead applied for the position on his own. In a speech on November 23, Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested one of the three NEC members should come from civil society, adding the proposal was “just my idea”.

NEC member Hang Puthea remains the neutral civil society member.

“In the original agreement between the CNRP and CPP, there is supposed to be only one from an NGO . . . It seems like the government nominated [Sovannarom],” Kuntheamy said.

Political analyst Meas Nee said the current political situation shows that the NEC has already failed to be independent.

“An independent NEC does not only matter the day they begin to vote . . . The NEC has to be in charge of the whole process of the election,” Nee said, explaining that as a “national mechanism” the NEC has failed to ensure a democratic election field.

Also yesterday, the National Assembly approved 16 new lawmakers, 15 from the ruling CPP and one from Funcinpec replacing new NEC member Sokhom.

Eleven of the CPP members took seats formerly held by the CNRP, which were refused by the League for Democracy Party and Khmer Anti-Poverty Party. The rest replaced ruling party lawmakers who resigned to contest the upcoming Senate election.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • ‘Golden’ Angkor Wat likely due to natural phenomenon: ANA

    Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them. Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway