The National Assembly, which will host its plenary session on Thursday, will debate the proposed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties, providing new revival hopes to Supreme Court-banned politicians whose political rights have been suspended for five years.
However, Ministry of Interior spokesman General Khieu Sopheak hinted that at least two more deputy vice-presidents of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – Mu Sochua and Eng Chhai Eang – are unlikely to have the bans on them lifted as their activities had “violated” the Supreme Court’s decision.
A meeting of the National Assembly’s Permanent Committee, led by National Assembly President Heng Samrin, on Tuesday chose December 13 to hold the plenary session to debate the proposed amendment to the law.
The decision to make the amendment was made on December 5, after the permanent committee convened its meeting. It then forwarded the draft amendment to the expert committee of the National Assembly to review and study it before sending it back to permanent committee.
After Tuesday’s meeting, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) lawmaker, Chheang Vun, confirmed that the National Assembly will debate the proposed amendment to Article 45 at its plenary session on Thursday. However, he denied that it was targeted at the opposition. He said the amendment applied to all politicians.
“The law that we are amending aims to revive the political careers of those from any party who are banned from participating in political activities. Some [people] said the law is aimed at freeing CNRP members, but it is not … it is for all politicians."
“We compiled and amended the law because in their daily implementation, some laws have failures that need to be corrected,” he said.
‘Do not protest’
Asked for examples of violations of the court ruling that could not be pardoned, Chheang Vun said: “If you read the decision, the Supreme Court’s ruling when imposing the five-year ban is very clear.
“What activities violate the court’s ruling? If the affected politicians change [their conduct] and do not protest, it means that they have corrected themselves and are doing the right thing."
“They do not need to talk much … those 118 people, we can notice who stayed quiet and respected the judgment or court’s ruling and who kept resisting it. Just look at their Facebook pages and you will know who did and did not violate the law.”
Meanwhile, Sopheak said of the 118 senior CNRP officials under the five-year ban, some will continue to face restrictions despite the law taking effect precisely because they did not respect the court’s ruling.
“Therefore, I think those 118 politicians are already aware if they should be granted the King’s pardon or otherwise. They know as they are aware of what they have done. And not only them, but also you [journalists] and the public know [who will not receive pardons]."
“For example, Eng Chhai Eang cannot be granted a pardon and neither can Mu Sochua. They are not on the list,” he said.
Sopheak then said Pol Ham, a former CNRP vice-president, could be on the list of those to be granted permission to resume their political careers as he has followed the court’s ruling.
“Pol Ham has kept his promise. He declared that if CNRP is dissolved by the Supreme Court, he will retire. Now, he has really retired though his name is on the list of the 118 politicians. He has not done anything [relating to politics],” he said.
But the newly-nominated acting president of the former CNRP, Sam Rainsy, wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that the 118 banned politicians “are not interested in recovering our political rights”.
“On behalf of the 118 CNRP officials who have been banned from politics since November 16, I want to tell Mr Hun Sen that he doesn’t need to reconsider our cases because we are not interested in recovering our political rights as long as Mr Kem Sokha, who is the CNRP President, has not recovered his full freedom and as long as all charges against him have not been dropped.
“I can speak for those 118 CNRP officials because I know them well since they received their positions when I was CNRP president,” he wrote.