Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Out of jail, and out of a job

Out of jail, and out of a job

Opposition commune chief Seang Chet was released from Prey Sar prison last week. The timing of this imprisonment led to his disqualification from running for re-election in the 2017 commune elections.
Opposition commune chief Seang Chet was released from Prey Sar prison last week. The timing of this imprisonment led to his disqualification from running for re-election in the 2017 commune elections. Pha Lina

Out of jail, and out of a job

Opposition commune chief Seang Chet, recently freed from prison, looks set to lose his position next year as he was unable to register as a voter while behind bars and therefore cannot stand as a candidate in local elections.

The local official returned to work yesterday in Kampong Cham province, just under a week since his five-year conviction for “bribing” the purported mistress of Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha was absolved by royal decree.

The 44-year-old’s release came on the back of an apparent political deal between the CNRP and ruling Cambodian People’s Party. The agreement – which began with Sokha’s pardon for a five-month sentence linked to a related “prostitution” case – looks set to end a raft of cases linked to Sokha’s affair, which were widely considered politically motivated.

But while he is now free, it appears Seang has been robbed of the chance to continue next year as chief of Srok commune, where he is widely popular, according to interviews with local villagers this year. Under the Election Law, only registered voters can contest seats. Chet’s six-month detention meant he missed the National Election Committee’s recent three-month registration drive, which ended last month.

Speaking yesterday, the Sam Rainsy Party member – who is also demanding the court return $75 and three mobile phones seized during his arrest – appealed to both parties for help. “I hope that both parties discuss and request that the NEC register my name in the competition in 2017 or else I cannot be a commune chief candidate,” he said yesterday.

Though CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said the party would “examine” Chet’s request, officials yesterday effectively dismissed the possibility. National Assembly secretary-general Leng Peng Long said any “special procedures” to extend the registration would require the Election Law to be changed, noting that no amendments had yet been submitted to the parliament.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said, as it stood now, there was no possibility for Chet to enrol for the 2017 poll, though he could register in 2018 when the body prepares voter lists for the national ballot. “If the assembly changes the law, the NEC will change accordingly . . . but it is hard to make an amendment because of one person,” Puthea said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan agreed, saying the law could not be changed for a single case. “The amendment is based on the special condition of each case, but for Seang Chet, I think that the possibility is very small or impossible,” he said.


  • Ministry taking steps over Thai ‘replica’ of Angkor Wat

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has dispatched experts to inspect the ongoing construction of a temple in Wat Phu Man Fah, located in Thailand’s Buriram province. This temple appears to be a replica of Cambodia’s renowned Angkor Wat. The ministry said

  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • PM to open new Siem Reap int’l airport December 1

    Prime Minister Hun Manet and Chinese leaders would jointly participate in the official opening of the new Chinese-invested Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on December 1. The airport symbolises a new page in the history of Cambodian aviation, which will be able to welcome long-distance flights to

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • Minimum wage set at $204, after Sep 28 vote

    The minimum wage for factory workers in the garment, footwear and travel goods industries for 2024 has been decided at $204 per month, with the government contributing $2. Following several negotiation sessions, the tripartite talks reached an agreement during a September 28 vote, with 46 of 51 votes supporting the $202 figure.

  • Thavisin touches down in Phnom Penh for first official visit to an ASEAN member state

    Thailand's newly appointed prime minister Srettha Thavisin has arrived in Cambodia for a one-day visit. The trip marks his first visit to an ASEAN country since taking office and aims to enhance bilateral trade and investment. According to the agenda, Thavisin is scheduled to hold