Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM, King call for investigation into opposition petition

PM, King call for investigation into opposition petition

People organise folders of thumbprinted petitions at the CNRP office earlier this week before delivering them to the Royal Palace.
People organise folders of thumbprinted petitions at the CNRP office earlier this week before delivering them to the Royal Palace. Hong Menea

PM, King call for investigation into opposition petition

The Council of Ministers has ordered Interior Minister Sar Kheng to investigate whether the opposition forged thumbprints featured on a mass petition submitted to the King on Monday.

The directive dated May 31 and signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, King Norodom Sihamoni and cabinet minister Su Phirin, tasks Kheng, also a deputy prime minister, with “examining” the petition, probing people “directly” and using “other possible means” to establish the thumbprints’ veracity.

This is in order to “avoid the use of thumb prints to trick both the people and the King”, the letter, released yesterday, states.

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak yesterday said the investigation could lead to yet another potential charge against the Cambodia National Rescue Party, whose acting president, Kem Sokha, is holed-up at the opposition’s headquarters to avoid arrest.

“If it’s found they repeated fake thumbprints, it’s a severe moral offence firstly, because first it cheats the King, and second, according to the law, they might be charged with faking the document and punished with a criminal offence,” Sopheak said.

The petition, which contains more than 170,000 thumbprints, urges King Norodom Sihamoni to intervene in what’s widely considered a political crackdown by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The CNRP – which is organising a second petition – accuses the CPP of having violated the constitution by using its control of the judiciary to manufacture a slew of questionable cases against its members, members of civil society and an election official.

The cases mainly stem from an alleged affair by Sokha, who has been provisionally charged with ignoring a court summons related to the scandal. CPP lawmakers on Monday voted to allow police to ignore his immunity.

CNRP supporters began collecting signatures for their first petition last month. Some of them were briefly detained by authorities.

A video purportedly showing CNRP supporters encouraging people to thumbprint on behalf of relatives emerged on a pro-government news site soon after the petition was delivered to the palace on Monday.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday denied the thumbprints were phony. He then reiterated a challenge for the government to invite the signatories to Phnom Penh to validate the petition. In a statement yesterday, the CNRP appealed to those who backed the appeal to be ready to come to the capital.

“If you want to know if it’s true or not, let 170,000 people show up at Freedom Park,” Sovann said.

According to Article 626 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, forgery – which carries a maximum three-year term – must be intentional and designed to “provide evidence of a right” or be an act carrying legal consequences.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said though forging a thumbprint was illegal, he had never heard of a forgery charge being applied to a petition.

“In short, it is a crime if you forge a thumbprint on behalf of others for public letters and private letters . . . but for a petition, I have never seen that,” the lawyer said.

The CNRP say they will respond with mass protests if police seize their acting president, who took refuge at party headquarters last week after officers attempted to take him into custody.

Sopheak, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said police were presently holding off on arresting Sokha to avoid potential clashes with opposition supporters.

“The important thing is that the ministry protects the security of the country . . . he can be arrested whenever,” he said.

Additional reporting by Shaun Turton

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Ministry to 'seek justice' for officials indicted in US for 'monkey smuggling'

    The Cambodian government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said they will make the “utmost effort” to seek justice for a Cambodian official arrested in John F Kennedy International Airport in New York for allegedly conspiring to smuggle crab-eating macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis)

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,