The recent sacking of a fourth CPP senator with dual nationality was a clear message
to other dual nationality members to keep quiet and follow the party line, said a
"The CPP is worried that its strength will be undermined if dual nationalities
inside the party feel they have the right to speak out or talk to people outside
it," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "I think the CPP feels
it is time to clear out dual nationalities because they might foment a split as has
happened with other parties in the past.
"Expelling members ensures others are loyal to the party," he said, adding
that an estimated 10-15 percent of CPP senators, MPs and high officials held dual
Senator Keo San was sacked January 4 after he questioned expenditure related to the
Royal Palace during debate on the 2002 Budget the previous week. He had asked Minister
of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon why the Palace needed 50 vehicles for two royals.
The source added that if the dual nationalities had more freedom to talk, they would
likely raise questions about corruption, partisan decisions and human rights abuses,
all sensitive issues for the party. He said freedom of expression had been restricted
for the past six months.
"In my view, high-ranking CPP officials have started to strengthen their power
by marrying their children to each other and extending blood relations," he
said, adding such moves could endanger reform of the government. "It is always
dangerous for society when power and corruption connect."
However, CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith, denied that interpretation of recent events.
Although many CPP members held dual citizenship, party guidelines stated that anyone
who spoke out against party policy would face being sacked. He said the policy of
both the CPP and its coalition partner Funcinpec was not to criticize the Royal Palace.
Keo San, a doctor with both French and Cambodian citizenship, is now working at his
clinic in Takhmau town. He told the Post that he was still loyal to the CPP despite
being sacked from his position and the party.
"I don't feel that I criticized the King," said San. "I merely made
a request. However a Funcinpec senator made things difficult after I brought up the
question of Royal Palace expenditure."
San, an experienced legislator, served as deputy chairman of the National Assembly
between 1966-1972. The CPP expelled three other senators December 8 for failing to
respect party discipline. They were Cambodian-Americans Phay Siphan and Chhang Song,
and Cambodian-Australian Savath Poeu.