The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has been accused of cutting the salaries of national police officers to help fund its political campaign ahead of the country’s commune elections on June 3.
A police official at the National Police Commissionaire’s internal security department, who did not want to be named, told the Post yesterday that officers were being forced to “contribute” as much as 100,000 riel (US$25) per month to the party.
The enforced deductions had begun last month and would continue until next year’s general election, regardless of their political affiliations, he said.
“I’m not really happy with my money cut, because our salary – like other civil servants – is a small amount,” he said. “It is not a good policy for the ruling CPP; they can find other ways to support the party.”
The officer added that the contributions were being deducted on a sliding scale based on position, from as much as 100,000 riel per month for higher ranking posts, to 10,000 riel for ordinary officers.
Another police officer, who also asked not to be named, said he had been told the money would be used for election purposes, while several more police officials confirmed the cuts were affecting their department.
National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun and spokesman Kirt Chantharith could not be reached for comment yesterday; however, Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak denied the allegations, saying the CPP had no authority to cut the salaries of civil servants.
“There is no policy to cut the salary for the party,” he said. “But there are some volunteer [financial donors] and they have the right to make political donations – this is mapped out in the constitution.”
Although unaware of the allegations, opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said civil servants faced many pressures to support the CPP.
“This is a big problem. The CPP has been pestering public servants, particularly police and teachers, to join their party. If they do not join, they will not be promoted,” he said. “They’re also being forced to pay. They have no choice. This kind of pressure is causing a lot of pressure on the system.”
Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak said the police officers’ allegations came as no surprise to him.
“It’s widespread. I know of these things happening,” he said.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said parties had the right to collect money from members, but a lack of internal policy outlining how best to do this led to problems.
“Do [members] have an obligation [to contribute] or not? It is not clear. They must improve transparency,” he said.
Meanwhile, as parties prepared to step up campaigning yesterday, the Human Rights Party and the Norodom Ranariddh Party demanded the National Election Committee take action against the Commune Election Commission and CPP party officials they claim have been sabotaging their campaign plans.
The two parties, during a meeting at NEC headquarters yesterday, claimed the provincial CEC in Kampong Speu and CPP-aligned village and commune chiefs were making it difficult for other parties to campaign.
In some cases, HRP and NRP had been told they could not hold marches or rallies, especially using microphones, without seeking permission from the village chief – a CPP member.
“CEC telling political parties to ask permission from the village chief is contrary to election law,” NRP’s election secretariat Kouy Sokharith said.
NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said he had not advised CEC to tell political parties to seek permission from the village chiefs to campaign.
“You must ask three days before starting a campaign and you must ask clearly,” he said. “If [the CEC or any authority] does not allow it, you must inform the NEC.”
Ou Virak said village chiefs were often involved in the CPP and were “at the whim of the ruling party”.
“Until village chiefs are elected by the people . . . you’re not going to get a fair election.”