All 26 opposition Sam Rainsy Party members are on the verge of resigning “any day” from the Cambodian parliament, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said yesterday, after three of the party’s MPs announced their official resignation.
Fresh from a recent trip to meet with pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, Mu Sochua said it was striking that even in heavily oppressed Myanmar, the government understands the need for an opposition.
Whereas Suu Kyi has announced plans to contest Myanmar’s next election after boycotting the national ballot in 2008, in Cambodia, the opposition is on the verge of completely resigning from a parliament that does not allow their input, she said.
The Cambodian government’s refusal to allow the opposition to examine the details of US$1.1 billion of potential concessionary loans in next year’s budget while continuing to sell off the nation’s resources to foreign countries has left the SRP with no real voice in parliament, she said.
“The 26 of us [SRP members of parliament] are very, very, very willing to any day resign. You don’t think there will be any kind of pressure when the second-biggest party and the biggest opposition party leaves?” she said.
“But we’re not [willing] to put our heads down and say ‘Yes, we can give away Cambodia to Thailand, to Vietnam, to China, to whoever.’ They’re coming in and buying Cambodia – from the sand to the air to the trees to our children.”
Yesterday’s resignations were intended to force a constitutional crisis by leaving the National Assembly with less than the quorum of 120 members stipulated by the constitution before it passes the national budget.
SRP secretary general and member of parliament for Siem Reap province Ke Sovannroth; Nuth Rumduol, who holds a seat in Kampong Speu province; and Thak Lany, an MP representing Kampong Cham province, all relinquished their seats.
Sam Rainsy, the self-exiled leader of the eponymous opposition party, said via video link from France that economic experts had advised they were reviewing slated loans, which if cancelled, would make the government “fall upside down”.
The MPs would not be replaced until the government had addressed the issues raised by the SRP, Sam Rainsy added.
“Normally, we have candidates for replacement. Filing anyone to replace [the previous member] is up to us. But the SRP will not file any new candidates to replace [them] in this circumstance. We are waiting to see the government [activities],” he said.
Sam Rainsy fled Cambodia shortly before he was charged with a series of criminal offences related to an incident in late 2009 in which he uprooted posts marking the country’s border with Vietnam.
Mu Sochua vowed Sam Rainsy would be back in the country before the next election in 2012, but declined to elaborate on whether this would be achieved via a political solution that would pardon him.
Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker for the Cambodian People’s Party, reiterated that the move would not stop the budget from being passed on Thursday and joked that if all the SRP members resigned together, it would make it easier to divide up their seats.
“He cannot defend his seat in the circumstance that he resigns from parliament. Everything is completed; there is no right to complain,” Cheam Yeap said.
But National Election Committee secretary-general Tep Nytha said yesterday SRP seats could not be divided up among other parties unless the SRP was dissolved.