Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Justice calls for legal action against Rainsy, Chhay Eang

Justice calls for legal action against Rainsy, Chhay Eang

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Eng Chhay Eang talks to CNRP youth at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh in 2016. Photo supplied

Justice calls for legal action against Rainsy, Chhay Eang

The Ministry of Justice on Wednesday called for legal action against leaders of a former opposition party who evoked the King in their calls for a nationwide boycott of this month’s national elections.

Recently, two members of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) issued pleas to the nation via Facebook, to follow the example of King Norodom Sihamoni and not vote on July 29, as part of their “Clean Fingers” election boycott campaign.

Government officials said they considered such action as an “offence” against the King and the Cambodian people.

Senior leaders of the former CNRP, on the other hand, claimed the government was afraid that such boycott calls would be successful.

The ministry’s call for legal action comes after the former president of the CNRP, Sam Rainsy, and Eng Chhay Eang, its former deputy president, recently made Facebook posts claiming that boycotting the election is akin to “following” the King’s action of not voting.

A ruling party spokesperson said the former opposition party’s campaign could be effective – but only with those who live outside the country.

Justice Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin told The Post on Wednesday that the former CNRP leaders had insulted the King, which violated Cambodia’s lèse majesté law. He said they must be held accountable for their actions.

“My view is that those who commit this type of action must be held responsible."

"We cannot let those individuals violate the law or just do whatever they want to violate the King, a symbol of the country, who everybody respects and love . . . It is unacceptable, not only for me but the people as well,” he said.

He said while the King has a right to vote, he doesn’t because of his desire to remain neutral as he is the King of all Cambodians and not just a political party.

“This action is one that violates [the law]. It’s slander and has negative effects on the reputation of the King. It looks down on the King, and abuses his reputation,” Malin said.

He said the ministry is reviewing the case, but whether charges will be filed depends on the prosecutors. Nonetheless, he reiterated that “it is an offence”.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan wrote on Telegram that the CNRP’s Clean Fingers campaign is “hopeless”.

“As for the campaign, it is effective only for those who live abroad and who have not registered for the election,” he wrote.

“Therefore, their Clean Fingers campaign is not effective. The election process will go smoothly and reflect the will of the Cambodian people, who will decide the fate of the country in line with multiparty democracy.”

However, former CNRP deputy president Mu Sochua questioned why the government would decide to take such action. She asked The Post: “Why is the government so afraid of a simple clean finger?”

Speaking to AFP, Andrea Giorgetta, director of the Asia desk for the International Federation for Human Rights, said the proposed boycott was legal and that the government’s reaction was “another sign of its fear”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the