ANOTHER 35 members of the Royalist party Funcinpec announced plans to join the ruling Cambodian People's Party last week. Pou Sothirak, former Cambodian ambassador to Japan, was the highest-ranking Funcinpec member to defect.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith confirmed the defections Sunday, noting that the members included civil servants, police officers and soldiers.
"We accepted their request to join with the CPP, and the list was announced in the Khmer-language newspaper Kampuchea Thmey," Khieu Kanharith said.
Lu Laysreng, deputy president of Funcinpec, speculated in an interview with the Post Sunday that the defecting members might have chosen to leave because they believed they would have greater job security with the CPP.
"Funcinpec has opened the door for those who do not want to stay with the party," Ly Laysreng said. "They have the right to join the CPP."
Koul Panha, executive director of the election monitor Comfrel, said those who left might have done so because of doubts about Funcinpec's prospects in future elections.
In addition, they might also have decided that the party has little power in the current coalition government because of the influence of the CPP.
Lu Laysreng said only 10 percent of more than 1.2 million Funcinpec supporters have defected to the CPP. He said most local supporters would not switch their allegiance to the ruling party. What's more, he said, he believes "members who left the party will return to their old house".