Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Censured lawmaker admits poor word choice

Censured lawmaker admits poor word choice

Cambodia National Rescue Party parliamentarian Um Sam An (right) attends a press conference at the Council of Ministers earlier this month.
Cambodia National Rescue Party parliamentarian Um Sam An (right) attends a press conference at the Council of Ministers earlier this month. Heng Chivoan

Censured lawmaker admits poor word choice

In the wake of his 15-session suspension from parliament for “insulting” National Assembly President Heng Samrin, opposition lawmaker Um Sam An has defended criticism he posted on social media while expressing regret over his choice of words.

Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) representative Sam An received the punishment – which also included having his parliamentary salary halved for two months – in an order signed by Samrin on Thursday, following a July 14 post by Sam An on Facebook criticising Samrin.

In the post, Sam An claimed Samrin had failed to forward a July 6 letter signed by several opposition members to Prime Minister Hun Sen urging the border demarcation process with Vietnam to be halted.

The post also saw him indirectly call Samrin a “yuon”– a term for Vietnamese people widely considered derogatory and sometimes thrown at members of the government by critics of apparent inaction on border issues.

Sam An’s punishment was doled out by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee, which ruled he had violated Article 87 of the constitution, Article 5 of the Civil Servant Status Law and articles 77 and 78 of the internal regulations of the assembly.

Speaking yesterday, Sam An denied reports in local press that he had apologised to Samrin, instead saying he was right to criticise Samrin over the failure to pass on the letter, but that his wording was ill-conceived.

“I have used unsuitable words against him, but I am not wrong,” he said.

“If we continue fighting, we will really lose out [on the border issue].”

While Sam An has called for a compromise to be reached over his remarks, ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker and National Assembly spokesman Cheang Vun stood by the punishment.

“The Standing Committee thinks he is wrong,” he said yesterday.

“I would like to tell him that he needs to use words a bit more carefully.”

The punishment was issued less than a week after Sam An and three other CNRP lawmakers staged a rally of some 2,000 supporters near the Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng province, leading more than 100 people to disputed Border Post 203.

The CNRP and local communities claim the border post is set hundreds of metres into Cambodian territory, with Vietnam apparently attempting to maintain the frontier where it is currently marked with a road currently under construction.

The CNRP has repeatedly called for all border demarcation to be halted until a proper review of the border can be carried out.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Police warn boycott FB group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign”

    Police said on Tuesday that they will pick up members of a Facebook group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign” that promotes a boycott of next month’s national elections. However, police merely planned to “educate” the group for now, but warned that if the

  • Ranariddh 'seriously injured', his wife dies in accident in Preah Sihanouk

    THE wife of former first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh has died. Ouk Phalla succumbed to injuries sustained in a traffic accident on National Road 4 in Preah Sihanouk’s Prey Nub district this morning. She and the prince were immediately rushed to the Preah Sihanouk