Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royalist party defends filing against CNRP

Royalist party defends filing against CNRP

Funcinpec supporters cross paths with CNRP supporters during a campaign rally in 2013.
Funcinpec supporters cross paths with CNRP supporters during a campaign rally in 2013. Heng Chivoan

Royalist party defends filing against CNRP

A spokesman for Funcinpec said yesterday that the party had filed its complaint to dissolve the opposition CNRP because “they took all my supporters”, insisting that the waning royalist faction was the true defender of democracy in the Kingdom.

On Thursday, Funcinpec filed a complaint with the Ministry of Interior to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party – the Kingdom’s largest opposition group – over a purported plot to topple the government. The ministry lodged its own complaint with the Supreme Court seeking the party’s dissolution the following day.

“You know why we did this,” Nheb Bun Chin, Funcinpec spokesman, said in an interview yesterday. “They took all my supporters. They took my customers. I used to have a big map, very famous.”

Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh actually won the Kingdom’s first democratic elections, but was forced into a power-sharing agreement with Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party.

Before his mandate was out, Ranariddh was ousted by Hun Sen in bloody factional fighting, but was later allowed to return as the minority partner in a coalition with the ruling CPP. Since then, Funcinpec has slid ever further into irrelevance, failing to win a single National Assembly seat in the 2013 election, or a single commune chief seat in local elections this year.

Unprompted, Bun Chin yesterday denied any association with the ruling party, claiming that Funcinpec was “protecting its product” by attacking the CNRP. “Who gave birth to democracy in Cambodia? Not Mu Sochua, not [Sisowath] Thomico. Ranariddh,” he added, referring to prominent CNRP officials.

Bun Chin also questioned what the opposition has accomplished with its 55 National Assembly seats.

The National Election Committee recently claimed the CNRP’s seats would be redistributed to minor parties in the event of its dissolution, with the bulk going to Funcinpec, a move that appears to be at odds with Cambodia’s election law.

“We don’t even think about that,” Bun Chin said.

Dr Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Thailand’s Naresuan University, said historically, Funcinpec can only make “a vague claim” to being a champion of democracy, adding that its recent cooperation with the CPP “diminishes” any claims it once had. “Funcinpec could become either a parliamentary opposition party much milder than CNRP or in the worst case a satellite party clandestinely endorsed by CPP,” he said in an email.

CNRP whip and acting spokesman Son Chhay said only that he would “let the people judge” which party better represented human rights and democracy.

Chhay said the party has not yet consulted with lawyers or decided how to proceed following the Interior Ministry’s move to dissolve it. “We are only concerned with our duty at the moment,” he said, explaining lawmakers met yesterday about the upcoming National Assembly session starting Thursday.

“The case is not going to be a normal case . . . We don’t believe we have done anything wrong.”

The CNRP’s latest troubles began when party President Kem Sokha was arrested last month on charges of “treason”. The accusation stemmed from a 2013 video in which he described receiving advice from the US, and his arrest has drawn near-universal condemnation both at home and abroad.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin yesterday confirmed the Ministry of Interior – the body that filed the complaint against the CNRP – would also investigate it.

Analyst Lao Mong Hay said allowing the Interior Ministry to investigate its own complaint was a conflict of interest. “The court should conduct its own investigation,” he said. “When the court uses the Ministry of Interior, the accuser acts as the investigator. This is not right.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a