Another SRP Lawmaker Jumps to CPP

National Assembly member Tan Vanthara left the SRP for the CPP on Sunday, officials said, making him the fourth opposition lawmaker to jump to the ruling party this year ahead of July’s na­tional election.

The Battambang lawmaker’s de­fection came a day after the SRP lost its deputy provincial chief for Prey Veng province, Kim Chansa­meth, to the ruling party.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sat­urday also gave further assurances that his CPP was more than happy to accept everyone willing to join, claiming in his speech that “several thousand” SRP members have re­cently joined the CPP.

“The CPP will continue to ac­cept [defectors] before and after the election,” Hun Sen said at a school inauguration Saturday in Kompong Chhnang province. “I would like to apologize to [SRP President] Sam Rainsy—I will continue to ac­cept them,” Hun Sen said.

Kim Chansameth said by telephone Sunday that he had resigned from the SRP and joined the CPP along with 96 other SRP members from Prey Veng province.

In his speech, Hun Sen said King Norodom Sihamoni has already been asked to approve Kim Chansameth as a government adviser, and the CPP-newcomer will also join the party’s working group, which coordinates campaign activities.

Tan Vanthara declined to comment on his defection, but SRP Sec­retary General Eng Chhay Eang confirmed the move.

Hun Sen said he views the de­fections as votes of confidence in the CPP platform, as the defectors chose to join the CPP instead of creating new parties. He also addressed criticisms regarding how the CPP lures de­fect­ors into its ranks. “Do not accuse the CPP of buying off people,” Hun Sen said. “I don’t need to buy people, and people are not goods.”

However, Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the CPP’s methods are suspect. Party defections have long happened ahead of elections, he said, but they didn’t always in­clude the lure of jobs.

“The government should not give government money and government positions to attract defectors,” he said. “It is not good for the election. It is not transparent with the national budget.”

Eng Chhay Eang acknowledged that people have the right to switch parties, and said the recent chang­es would not have a negative effect on the SRP’s election chances.

“The SRP’s success is up to the voters,” Eng Chhay Eang said. “The voters have confidence in the SRP.”

Since last year, six of the SRP’s 23 lawmakers have defected, with Tan Vanthara, Ngor Sovann, Ah­mad Yahya and Sok Pheng jumping to the CPP; Kieng Vang going to Funcinpec; and Keo Remy joining the HRP.


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