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Sokha refutes salary claims

Kem Sokha speaks at a ceremony to commemorate the Paris Peace Agreements at the Cambodia National Rescue Party headquarters
Kem Sokha speaks at a ceremony to commemorate the Paris Peace Agreements at the Cambodia National Rescue Party headquarters last month. Vireak Mai

Sokha refutes salary claims

Opposition lawmaker Kem Sokha said during a speech on Sunday that a political analyst’s claim that he made a tidy sum serving as vice president of the National Assembly was concocted in tandem with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“I have been criticised for a very long time, and the analysts joined hands with the CPP and Hun Sen and criticised and defamed me, saying I received $15,000 a month,” Sokha said to villagers gathered in Battambang province’s Sangke district.

Kem Ley, the political analyst who made the claim while on tour with his “social network” Khmer for Khmer – which will decide on whether to become a new political party next month – was not directly mentioned by Sokha.

Sokha did, however, appeal for Cambodia’s opposition to stay united, said Meach Sovannara, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s information department.

“Speaking to party activists in Bavel commune on Independence Day, he called for a democratic Khmer people to be united to … win against Hun Sen in order to reform the administration.”

Ley’s new Khmer for Khmer organisation has caused divisions within the Kingdom’s opposition, some of whom claim it would split the opposition vote and strengthen the ruling party.

Neither Kem Sokha nor Kem Ley could be reached for comment yesterday.

However, Ley previously said at a meeting on Sunday that his $15,000 claim had been “mistranslated” as he was referring to the total “direct and indirect” benefits Sokha and his staff received rather than his personal salary.

Ley did not back down from criticising that sum, however, saying politicians’ allocations were “not transparent”, citing Sokha’s 21 new advisers.

“Normal parliamentarians [outside Cambodia], they have a driver, a secretary, that’s it,” Ley said.

Ou Virak, chairman of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said allegations Ley was working for the CPP were “ridiculous.”

“Doesn’t he remember how Kem Sokha was accused [of working with the CPP] when he joined the parliament?”

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