Former Women's Affairs Minister Mu Sochua, who has remained silent about her political
future since she was left out of the coalition government lineup on July 15, made
it clear this week that she is about to defect from Funcinpec to the opposition Sam
Mu Sochua ... 'I am not a lone voice.'
In an interview with the Post she revealed that, rather than being dumped, she had
declined an offer of her old cabinet position. She talked about her strong political
principles, constitutional issues, and declared her disappointment with Funcinpec.
She returned to Cambodia on August 7 and has kept a low profile. Sochua has been
in the USA where she attended the Democratic Party national convention in Boston
with Sam Rainsy.
She is believed to be waiting for party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh to return
from somewhere overseas so she can deliver her resignation personally. Sources close
to Funcinpec said Ranariddh was in Singapore last week.
Post: Does the president of Funcinpec know you are planning a move?
"I made a decision not to be in the new cabinet and I think that is my clear
message to him. I last spoke to him two weeks before the formation of the government
Where is he now?
"He must answer that."
Why is he absent at such an important time?
"The party has to answer that.
"My party offered me the Minister of Women's Affairs position for a second term.
My decision not to accept has nothing to do with not being able to pay the bribe
- which I did not pay the first time - nor of not being accepted by Hun Sen. I made
my decision to stay out of the government because democracy in Cambodia is at risk.
I could never face the people who depend on their leaders to serve with integrity.
The people of Cambodia have paid a great deal for democracy, therefore we must do
everything in our power to uphold the fundamental principles of democracy.
"I gave up a very comfortable life as minister. Even now I wake in the morning,
and think about going to work, where is my 4wd, where are my secretaries? I have
to pinch myself and say No, it's no longer available. But does it end my life? No,
it gives me more energy. I look in the mirror and I say: I have chosen a team who
have stood on principles, with difficulties, have chosen democracy. These politicians
can be the models, the hope.
"I am not a lone voice. I think we are all aware as politicians, but how much
are we true to what we say? We all have ideals, but do they match the reality of
the needs of the people? We have to be honest with ourselves and ask whether we have
performed as elected representatives.
"The voice of the people is becoming less and less heard.
"You have to be blind and deaf not to see and hear the poor. The channels for
them to express their needs have been cut off."
Post: What do you want from Hun Sen?
"I ask him to look at the reality behind the statistics. How many people is
36 percent of 13 million who are living below the poverty line; look at the infant
mortality, the maternal mortality, the unemployed numbers. These people have no alternatives.
Can they wait for the reforms that we are always promising? We have promised reforms
mandate after mandate and do you think our children can stop from growing; can we
put on hold their hunger for learning, for affection, for access to health care,
the dreams of youth?
"Hun Sen says all the right things in his speeches. But how can anything change
when it depends on the same players, for the past 15 years. I say he should be demanding
better performance from himself and his ministers."
Isn't there a danger you've made the wrong decision, and you could be left out in
"I made the decision based on principles of equality, freedom, rights. I'm going
to work with people who share the same vision, so I don't think I will be left out
in the cold."
Post: In the light of recent political developments, does Cambodia have a Parliamentary
"I believe that a country's highest law is the Constitution and the highest
body responsible for protecting the Constitution is the Constitutional Council. Like
other councils (ie Council of Magistracy) the composition of the CC is not independent
and neutral. We have seen many instances of how the CC functions when it comes to
the interpretation of the contents of the Constitution: ie the interpretation of
the electoral law, the holding of the last meeting of the National Assembly, the
amendment of the Constitution.
"Although there are provisions for the amendment of the Constitution, it is,
however, not acceptable to amend the supreme law to fit the desire of some individuals
or parties or groups in order to fix a political crisis. We have seen that time and
time again, the Constitution is amended to keep power or give more power for the
people in power.
"To say that the CC needs to be asked for its interpretation of the constitutionality
of the latest political development in Cambodia is to admit that the CC cannot fulfill
its function, the CC cannot guarantee to the people the protection of the Constitution.
Those members who refuse to perform with responsibility belittle the people and lack
courage. It is clear and simple.
"The CC has the fundamental responsibility and is accountable to the people
of Cambodia. When the highest body of the nation has failed to accomplish its mission
again and again, it is very clear and simple that democracy in Cambodia is facing
severe risks and is not on the right track."