Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP ‘decides’ on Puthea

CNRP ‘decides’ on Puthea

Hang Puthea, director of Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia
Hang Puthea, director of Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, talks to the Post on Wednesday about the ninth seat on the National Election Committee. Hong Menea

CNRP ‘decides’ on Puthea

The opposition emerged from an afternoon meeting yesterday saying it was united on the selection of Hang Puthea, head of election-monitoring group Nicfec, as the ninth member of the reformed National Election Committee (NEC).

The announcement followed days of seeming uncertainty over the decision, which one party official previously told the Post had been made by party president Sam Rainsy “alone”.

Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponharith said yesterday that after discussing the choice at the meeting, members had ultimately agreed to back the candidate.

“We do not object, because he is a candidate from civil society. He has worked in election [monitoring], so it is not bad,” he said. “We have confidence in his conscientiousness.”

Ponharith added that concerns from the CNRP earlier this week had centred around rumours that Puthea, the slated “neutral” element of the nine-member NEC, suffers from severe diabetes – something Puthea himself denies – and could miss crucial votes due to health problems.

He explained that with one member absent, the remaining eight could still make a decision, but the vote would be weighted in the favour of whichever party holds the NEC’s deputy president role. “If he does not have any disease, it is even better,” Ponharith added.

After formally agreeing to back Puthea’s candidacy earlier this week, CNRP president Sam Rainsy made an abrupt turnaround, calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to consider other applicants, citing the rumours of Puthea’s ill health.

Following an ultimatum from Hun Sen on Wednesday that it was either Puthea or keeping the existing and much-maligned NEC, Rainsy said his party fully backed the candidate, while other members said they remained undecided.

Rainsy maintained yesterday that “the decision [on Puthea] was made many days ago”, and denied that the meeting was held to discuss the candidate. It was to “discuss how to improve our communications” so that people would not interpret divisions within the party, he said.

With both parties backing his candidacy, Koul Panha, executive director of election monitoring group Comfrel, said he had faith that Puthea would thrive in the role. “He has worked in election [monitoring] since a long time ago. I hope that he will continue [to promote an] open culture for civil society to join in offering ideas” regarding future elections.

In an interview on Wednesday, Puthea said he would not compromise his neutral role for either party.

“I love [having a] neutral position. So if they want me to turn left or turn right, I will absolutely not do it,” he said.



  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Hun Sen says Montagnards don’t exist in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen once again attacked ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy for pledging “autonomy” to Montagnards, claiming – seemingly incorrectly – the ethnic minority does not exist in Cambodia. “We respect all minorities such as Jarai, Steang, Phnong, but we have never had Montagnards,” the premier said