Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mam Sonando regains Beehive presidency

Mam Sonando regains Beehive presidency

Veteran radio host Mam Sonando greets thousands of CNRP supporters at Freedom Park in July 2013.
Veteran radio host Mam Sonando greets thousands of CNRP supporters at Freedom Park in July 2013. Charlotte Pert

Mam Sonando regains Beehive presidency

Outspoken radio host Mam Sonando is once again at the helm of the Beehive Social Democratic Party, after he was voted back in as president at the party’s congress on Sunday.

Sonando resigned from leadership in August after Beehive’s poor showing in the June commune elections but said the forced dissolution in October of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, gave him an opportunity to compete.

“I really positively believe in joining the upcoming elections, and if we have success or not, it depends on the residents. But I just want to make sure that people are understanding the current political situation,” he said.

“After the CNRP was dissolved, people are aware of it and they’ll support the Beehive party, as they only have one path.”

But in an email, former CNRP President Sam Rainsy challenged Sonando’s willingness to fill the political void.

“Nothing can replace the CNRP as the only viable opposition party, the only real and popular democratic force feared by Hun Sen,” he said.

Without the participation of the CNRP in an “honest election”, he said, the 2018 poll would be nothing more than “a theatrical show”.

Legal uncertainty could also cloud Sonando’s leadership. New amendments to the Law on Political Parties rushed through parliament last year mean that people with criminal convictions cannot hold senior leadership positions within political parties, unless they have received a royal pardon or their sentences were suspended. It is unclear from the law’s language, however, if the sentence must have been suspended at the time of the conviction.

Sonando was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012 on charges of “incitement” and of fomenting a secessionist plot. After international outcry, his sentence was reduced after eight months and suspended.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he was unsure if Sonando would be able to keep his position. “I have not yet received a report,” he said. “Let our lawyers verify it.”

Ruling CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said Cambodia was indeed a “multiparty democracy” as 35 political parties were registered at the Interior Ministry.

“If grandfather Sonando wants to join the political stage, it is his right,” Eysan said. “It shows democracy. We are not narrow-minded.”

Asked about Sonando’s prior conviction, Eysan incorrectly claimed he had been pardoned by the King and said “raising the old case, it is not correct”.

Additional reporting by Ben Sokhean


  • 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

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • 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

  • Phnom Penh smothered in smelly, dangerous haze as landfill fire continues burning

    A putrid haze that has bedeviled Phnom Penh since Monday night will likely continue as a landfill in Dangkao district continued to burn on Friday, creating health risks for the capital's residents. Workers at the Dangkao landfill on site on Friday attributed the fire, which