Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC repercussions for Chakrya case: analysts



NEC repercussions for Chakrya case: analysts

Ny Chakrya enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week where he was convicted of defamation.
Ny Chakrya enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week where he was convicted of defamation. Hong Menea

NEC repercussions for Chakrya case: analysts

The fate of Ny Chakrya, the former Adhoc staffer and current National Election Committee (NEC) member who on Thursday was sentenced to six months in prison, will determine the political independence of the NEC, analysts said yesterday.

Chakrya was convicted of defaming two Siem Reap court officials after he publicly criticised their decision to charge two villagers with incitement for their involvement in a high-profile land dispute. Chakrya’s lawyer is now appealing that verdict.

Until the court makes a final decision on the appeal, the NEC will not seek to replace Chakrya or revoke his salary, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said yesterday. But if he is ultimately determined to be guilty, Chakrya will be barred from reassuming his position even after his jail term is completed.

Such an outcome would effectively muzzle any official brave enough to step into Chakrya’s shoes, said political analyst Ou Virak.

“People will be a lot more careful and fearful, and that will create problems for the NEC,” Virak said. “It would mean there is no free place in Cambodia’s political context.”

A position within the NEC is already considered to be a high-risk and poorly paid job, Virak added. If an official is then sent to prison, it would further deter qualified candidates from applying.

“We have to keep in mind that there aren’t many qualified candidates in Cambodia,” Virak said. “And I wonder if any good candidates would take this job . . . So we would have a mediocre candidate who comes in knowing that they have to self-censor.”

Sam Kuntheami, executive director of election watchdog Nicfec, meanwhile, said Chakrya is being unfairly targeted for his role as a human rights advocate.

“The court did not have strong evidence against him,” Kuntheami said yesterday. “I think authorities were unhappy with him from his time at Adhoc.”

Sam Kong, Chakrya’s lawyer, said yesterday that he plans to file a complaint to the court of appeals in early October.

“I will go to the court to meet him [Chakrya] on Monday to tell him about the plans to appeal after the Pchum Ben holiday,” Kong said, adding that the verdict violated his client’s right to free speech.

But no matter the outcome, he is likely to remain in jail for the foreseeable future. Chakrya is currently in pre-trial detention along with four Adhoc staffers on unrelated accusations of bribing the alleged mistress of acting CNRP president Kem Sokha.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as