Law change ‘wel­comed’ by Sokha as it goes for re­view

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE - Ben Sokhean

THE Per­ma­nent Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional As­sem­bly met on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss the pro­posed amend­ment to Ar­ti­cle 45 of the Law on Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties – some­thing “sup­ported and wel­comed” by for­mer op­po­si­tion leader Kem Sokha – and put it up for re­view by its par­lia­men­tar y com­mis­sion.

The amend­ment would al­low in­di­vid­ual politi­cians who have been barred by the Supreme Court to reen­ter pol­i­tics be­fore the term of their ban is com­plete, pro­vided they re­ceive a par­don from King Norodom Si­ha­moni through a re­quest made by the prime min­is­ter.

Speak­ing through his lawyers on Wed­nes­day, Sokha, the for­mer pres­i­dent of the Supreme Court-dis­solved Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party (CNRP), who is cur­rently on bail await­ing trial on trea­son charges, “sup­ported and wel­comed” the pro­posed govern­ment amend­ment, which could al­low banned CNRP politi­cians to re­sume their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers.

Pheng Heng, one of Sokha’s de­fence lawyers, told The Post on Wed­nes­day that his client was aware of the devel­op­ment and con­sid­ered it a “solu- tion pro­mot­ing free­dom and hu­man rights”.

“[Sokha] sup­ports and wel­comes [the pro­posed law change]. As per his vi­sion and stance, he will al­ways wel­come all so­lu­tions pro­mot­ing free­dom, hu­man rights and multi-party democ­racy,” Heng said.

The amend­ment was pro­posed by

87 CPP law mak­ers, rep­re­sented by Cheam Yeap and Pen Panha, on Mon­day.

Around 30 min­utes af­ter the meet­ing ended on Wed­nes­day, 13 mem­bers of the Per­ma­nent Com­mit­tee, led by t he pres­i­dent of t he Na­tional As­sem­bly, Heng Sam­rin, ap­proved the pro­posal and for warded it to the ex­pert com­mit­tee for rev iew, be­fore its pos­si­ble adop­tion at t he next ple­nar y ses­sion.

Speak­ing to re­porters af ter t he meet­ing, rul­ing part y law­maker Ch­heang Vun said the amend­ment aimed to fill “gaps” in the law and en­cour­age banned politi­cians who have “cor­rected” them­selves by obey­ing the law.

“Af­ter Supreme Court conv ic­tions, we need to en­cour­age the conv icted who have cor­rected them­selves by re­spect­ing t he law.

“If they have obeyed the law, we have to en­cour­age them. If we do not en­cour­age them, it means that those banned peo­ple will find no in­cen­tive to cor­rect them­selves. They have put in t he ef fort to cor­rect t hem­selves, as they want some­thing in re­turn and hope to ben­e­fit by hav ing their ban lif ted,” he said.

Vun said the amend­ment would not a llow a dis­solved part y to re­form un­der the same name, and only in­div idua ls would be af­fected by the change to the law.

He re­jected the no­tion t hat t he move came as a re­sult of in­ter­na­tiona l pres­sure.

“Cam­bo­dia is led by Samdech Te­cho Hun Sen. We have never po­si­tioned our­selves be­cause of for­eign pres­sure. We usu­ally only fo­cus on our own sovereignt y and in­de­pen­dence. All Cam­bo­di­ans should ad­here per­fect ly to t his v ision,” he said.

Vun said t hat af ter the new law ta kes ef fect, t he Min­istr y of In­te­rior or Min­istr y of Jus­tice would be able to re­quest the Prime Min­is­ter to ask for a par­don from the King. “[The min­istries] will rev iew a ll cases as to who is el­i­gi­ble for a par­don,” he said.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Sar Kheng on Tues­day hinted that the ma­jorit y of the 118 for­mer se­nior CNRP of­fi­cia ls banned by the Supreme Court from pol­i­tics for five years might be able to re­sume t heir ca­reers, while only a small num­ber would not.

“Among t he 118 [CNRP] polit icians [barred from pol­i­tics], only a few have not re­spected the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion, while most of them have. In fact, t he ma­jorit y has re­spected the court’s de­ci­sion and we need to ac­cept t his trut h,” Sar Kheng said.

HONG MENEA

So­cial me­dia star Thy So­van­tha, seen speak­ing out­side the Ph­nom Penh court, won a defama­tion case against for­mer op­po­si­tion leader Sam Rainsy last year.

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