Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM: Adhoc not on agenda

PM: Adhoc not on agenda

Deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha (left) speaks to Prime Minister Hun Sen at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh late last year.
Deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha (left) speaks to Prime Minister Hun Sen at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh late last year. Afp

PM: Adhoc not on agenda

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday threatened to scrap the title of parliamentary minority leader if the opposition pushes for the release of prisoners in upcoming talks with their ruling party counterparts.

The position, ostensibly equal in rank to prime minister, is held by Cambodia National Rescue Party acting president Kem Sokha, who assumed the title from exiled party president Sam Rainsy in December after King Norodom Sihamoni granted a royal pardon clearing his five-month sentence for not appearing in his “prostitution” case.

After the pardon, Sokha pledged to lobby for the release of four workers from rights group Adhoc and an election official imprisoned in a bribery case related to his own.

With expectations the group would be released before the end of last year dashed, attention has now turned to a planned meeting between Sokha and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who is “majority leader” for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

However, talking points proposed for the sit down did not mention the inmates, and Hun Sen wants it to stay that way.

Speaking yesterday from Switzerland, where he is attending the Davos World Economic Forum, the premier warned he would ask CPP lawmakers to amend the parliament’s internal regulations to ditch the title if the opposition “created difficulties” by pushing the prisoners onto the agenda.

He said using the minority leadership position to negotiate for the group’s release was an “abuse” of the country’s courts.

If it created such difficulties, “we must amend the new Article 48”, Hun Sen told pro-government outlet Fresh News, referring to the provision in the parliament’s internal regulations that refer to the position.

“Because the new article was my idea, I propose to amend it through members of parliament of the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said.

Reached yesterday, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment on the premier’s remarks.

He said, based on the party’s correspondence with Sar Kheng, that there was “no problem” with the talks, though a date still had not been set.

“We do not refer about how to release [the prisoners], but we talk about political problems,” Sovann said of the meeting’s agenda.

If Hun Sen does move to scrap Sokha’s position of minority leader, it wouldn’t be the first time the CPP has stripped the CNRP deputy of a title, having ousted him as National Assembly first vice president in 2015 amid claims he had too harshly criticised the ruling party.

Observers, in fact, saw Hun Sen’s public endorsement of Sokha as the new minority leader as a way to further marginalise Rainsy, who initially claimed the title was still his.

Commenting on the recent threat, political analyst Ou Virak said such titles were purely “ceremonial” anyway, as were the meetings between leaders.

“At the end of the day, most of these deals are not done through meetings but through other forms of communication,” Virak said.

“I wouldn’t read too much into the agenda of these so-called meetings.”

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42