‘Rebel’ Sochua ‘chased out of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE - Ben Sokhean

FOR­MER Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party (CNRP) law­maker Mu Sochua said on Thurs­day that she was “chased” out of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Brus­sels last week by gov­ern­ment del­e­gate Ch­heang Vun, who ad­mit­ted ex­pelling a “rebel” who “acts fool­ishly” from a meet­ing.

Vun, who is a Cam­bo­dian Peo­ple’s Party (CPP) leg­is­la­tor and mem- ber of the Na­tional As­sem­bly, said on Thurs­day that he had de­fended Cam­bo­dia’s “le­git­i­macy” by at­tend­ing the 10th Asia-Europe Par­lia­men­tary Part­ner­ship Meet­ing in Bel­gium.

There, he said, he had “ex­pelled” Sochua, with the for­mer CNRP deputy direc­tor ex­press­ing “dis­ap­point­ment” at his ac­tion.

The five-per­son Cam­bo­dian del­e­ga­tion con­sist­ing of two mem­bers of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and three sen­a­tors at­tended the 10th Asi­aEurope Par­lia­men­tary Part­ner­ship Meet­ing in Bel­gium on Septem­ber 27-28. It mainly fo­cused on en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges fac­ing Asia and Europe.

The al­ter­ca­tion oc­curred when Sochua turned up at the meet­ing.

She said on Face­book Live on Thurs­day in the EU Par­lia­ment that she was “dis­ap­pointed” af­ter the Cam­bo­dian gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion, in­clud­ing Vun, used in­ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage and be­hav­iour to­wards her af­ter she had tried to show them cour­tesy.

“I am deeply dis­ap­pointed be­cause I greeted the del­e­ga­tion of Cam­bo­dia and His Ex­cel­lency Ch­heang Vun as we are all Cam­bo­di­ans. I am very dis­ap­pointed that Ch­heang Vun did not greet me.

“He asked me what right I had to en­ter the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment as they were the le­git­i­mate rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Cam­bo­dia,” she said.

Sochua said she went to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of nearly half the King­dom’s pop­u­la­tion who had voted for the CNRP at the 2017 com­mune elec­tions, but Vun chased her out.

“He said: ‘I do not recog­nise Mu Sochua, so go away.’ I was very dis­ap­pointed with what he said, but I am proud to have en­tered the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Our pres­ence rep­re­sents

half t he na­tion,” she said.

Con­tacted by The Post on Thurs­day, Vun ad­mit­ted that he chased Sochua out of the meet­ing. He said he con­sid­ered his del­e­ga­tion as t he only of fi­cia l rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Cam­bo­dia, af­ter be­ing inv ited to at­tend, and so it was his right.

“She even wanted to sit at Cam­bo­dia’s seat. When I asked her what is she do­ing there, she replied that she had come to greet me. I said: ‘I do not ac­cept that; there is only one rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Cam­bo­dia’s par­lia­ment here.

“Is she a law maker? She is a rebel. What right does she have to at­tend? She has no right and acts fool­ishly and cra zi ly li ke this. We can­not ac­cept t hese peo­ple,” he said.

Sochua said she had in­tended to ra ise t he top­ics of democ­racy, free­dom and free­dom of ex­pres­sion in t he meet­ing, and t hat i n a demo­cratic countr y, ever yone has t he r ig ht to en­ter par­lia ment.

“I came as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of half the King­dom’s pop­u­la­tion to talk about democ­racy, free­dom, and free­dom of ex­pres­sion in the coun­try. The EU is a demo­cratic place . . . jus­tice will pre­vail,” she said.

On Wed­nes­day, the Na- tional As­sem­bly via Face­book is­sued a video from the Cam­bo­dian del­e­ga­tion.

In it, Vun says the Cam­bo­dian del­e­ga­tion was wel­comed by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and he re­garded the visit as “a suc­cess of Cam­bo­dia” and of all Cam­bo­di­ans.

“I would like to con­firm again to the coun­tries of the world [that] this Asia-Euro­pean Par­lia­ment meet­ing con­firms that Cam­bo­dia is on the right path.

“We are proud that Cam­bo­dia is not among the 38 coun­tries the UN con­sid­ers to have v io­lated hu­man rights,” he says.

Vun said when the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in­vited Cam­bo­dia to at­tend the meet­ing, it meant it recog­nised the King­dom’s new gov­ern­ment.

“[ The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment] for­mally in­vited Cam­bo­dia’s gov­ern­ment. The IPU [In­ter-Par­lia­men­tary Union] and the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in­vited us be­cause they recog­nise us.

“If they in­vited us, how can an­other del­e­ga­tion come and bother us,” he asked.

The EU Em­bassy in Ph­nom Penh did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment from The Post on Thurs­day.

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