Law change ‘welcomed’ by Sokha as it goes for review
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.
Social media star Thy Sovantha, seen speaking outside the Phnom Penh court, won a defamation case against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy last year.