Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP)
and coalition partner Funcinpec are supporting an initiative put forth by retired
King Norodom Sihanouk to keep the royal family out of politics.
But politically involved royal family members are saying it's irresponsible for them
to leave the political arena when the nation is still corrupt and lacks law enforcement.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, president of Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party (SJFP), told
the Post on February 7 that he will step down as the head of his party if the coalition
government can stop the issues of land grabbing, corruption, illegal logging, illegal
immigration and the selling off of state assets.
"I decided to become involved in politics because I feel that my nation is in
a serious situation," Thomico said. "I want to see the leadership of the
country respect the rule of law."
Prince Norodom Chakrapong, deputy president of Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP), has
charged that illegal immigrants are being registered to vote in the forthcoming commune
"I think that this is dangerous for the nation in the future, when illegal immigrants
can vote to install the government," Chakrapong said. "What's wrong with
members of the royal family? Let me help my nation!"
The prince blasted the proposed initiative. He claims removing members of the royal
family from politics is unconstitutional and aimed only at silencing the political
movement of royals who often criticize the government.
"I think that land grabbing, corruption, illegal immigration, illegal logging,
and the selling of state assets is widespread within this government, and there have
been serious effects to the living conditions of the poor," Chakrapong said.
"Why don't they focus on those issues? We want to stay in politics because we
love the nation, and we want to resolve all these problems for the Cambodian people."
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia
(Comfrel), said that the monarchy once held much political might in Khmer society
and served to provide a system of checks and balances.
"I think that an initiative that impacts any political movement will weaken
democracy and checks of balances. It will create more corruption, and corruption
now is already out of control among the ruling officials who want to strengthen their
grip on power," Panha said.
Thomico said that in Cambodian history only the monarchy was able to bring the country
independence from France in 1953, and from Vietnam in 1991.
Thomico said that he will leave politics when the country achieves real independence.
But Hun Sen said that it is impossible for members of the Royal family to protect
the entire the nation when those cannot protect themselves.
He said that the CPP is the real protector of the Cambodian monarchy.