The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has accused the newly-created-but-unvalidated opposition Cambodia National Heart Party (CNHP) of being formed by ex-opposition leaders, claiming former opposition leader Sam Rainsy used $200,000 from a “watch raffle” campaign to fund the party, an allegation rejected by CNHP’s interim president yesterday.
Despite first submitting its documents with the Interior Ministry in June, the CNHP has yet to receive validation from the government. The party itself still has not made the leadership of the party public.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan has claimed that Rainsy, who has been living in exile in France since 2015 to avoid jail time for several convictions, is behind the CNHP formation.
The Law on Political Parties allows the Supreme Court to dissolve or ban any political party whose leaders have committed crimes. It also banned the convicts from becoming president or deputy president of a party.
“Clearly, more than $200,000 worth of the ‘watch raffle’ campaign was used by the convict (Rainsy) to form the Cambodia National Heart Party, which he often referred to as one of the ‘firefly parties’ or the ‘CPP puppet parties’,” Eysan said in a recent Telegram group message referring to a campaign launched by Rainsy in May, claiming to help poor people in lockdown areas, raffling his Casio wristwatch valued at $5.00.
Eysan mocked Rainsy, who has regularly called small parties or newly created parties “firefly parties” or puppets of the ruling CPP, an accusation which was strongly rejected by those parties.
In February, Rainsy also alleged that Prime Minister Hun Sen attempted “to manufacture an artificial opposition”, saying new opposition parties are using former court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha’s name to attract ex-party supporters.
When asked about the evidence over his allegation against the CNHP yesterday, Eysan said the information was leaked from an “internal” source of the ex-CNRP.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan (L) and Siem Plouk, a founding member of Cambodia National Heart Party. Khmer Times & Facebook
“The activists of the former opposition party also said this,” he said. “If they want to sue us, please go to the French district court.”
Eysan noted that the information was also leaked on social media, saying the CNHP have the right to deny the allegation.
Siem Plouk, the interim president of CNHP, yesterday defended his party from the accusation made by the CPP spokesman, saying Rainsy and other ex-CNRP leaders are not funding the party.
“What the rival party says is their thing. As an opposition party, we are always looking for sources of funding from supportive members as well as those with the same tendencies and goals in solving national problems,” he said.
“Our sources of funding are many and the important thing is to ask whether our sources of funding come from honest or dishonest sources. As long as the source is honest, we accept it all,” Plouk added.
The CNHP denied its involvement with Rainsy, saying the allegation is “not the truth”.
“As of today, I have never received a single riel from Sam Rainsy. It’s their (CPP) bussiness; we cannot stop them from talking,” said Plouk.
When asked if former CNRP vice-president Eng Chhay Eang and Thach Setha, a former senator of the Sam Rainsy Party (later changed to the Candlelight Party), are supporting his party as accused by former local CNRP activists, Plouk said his party has nothing to do with ex-CNRP politicians who were banned from participating in politics for five years.
Setha, who is also president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association, has denied his involvement with CNHP.
“They cannot be activists or represent the party but can talk to each other which is not illegal,” Plouk said.
He added that the Interior Ministry caused more obstacles for his party to get officially registered to participate in the upcoming election.
In September, Kheng refused to recognise the CNHP, giving the party 15 days to fulfil all conditions and criteria stated in Law on Political Parties, and stating that the ministry had previously sent two reminders to CNHP to amend the content of the party’s bylaw.
Kheng has instructed the CNHP to provide additional documents on its decision to establish an interim committee, the main policies and programmes of the party and the backgrounds of its president and at least three founders.
“In case the party still does not follow the spirit of this letter, the Interior Ministry will decide not to register the Cambodia National Heart Party in the list of political parties at the Interior Ministry,” Kheng said.
Plouk yesterday said his party has followed all conditions and criteria stated in Law on Political Parties and is waiting to get validation from the ministry.