National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long said on Wednesday that parliament wields the power to summon deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha for questioning over dozens of recorded telephone calls leaked over the past month that allegedly feature him talking with his mistresses.
The comments followed a warning on Tuesday by the CPP’s National Assembly spokesman, Chheang Vun, that an “ad hoc” parliamentary committee could be created to examine claims that Mr. Sokha had a number of extra-marital affairs, accusations he has refused to publicly acknowledge.
Following a meeting of the Assembly’s permanent committee, which is controlled by the CPP and sets the body’s agenda, Mr. Peng Long, who is also the Assembly’s secretary-general, said Mr. Sokha could be summoned.
“If the National Assembly thinks Kem Sokha’s case is a very important and special issue, at least one-tenth of the National Assembly’s members can make a petition…to invite and summon Kem Sokha to give clarification,” he said, citing Article 89 of the Constitution.
Article 89 of the Constitution says: “Upon the request of at least one-tenth of its Members, the National Assembly shall invite high ranking officials to clarify important special issues to the National Assembly.”
Yet Mr. Peng Long said he had not received any requests from within parliament for an inquiry into Mr. Sokha, as was suggested by Mr. Vun on Tuesday.
“For the case of Kem Sokha, I have not yet received information over the establishment of a special committee and I also do not have the information that lawmakers are making a petition about the case,” he said.
A group of students leading a campaign to have Mr. Sokha respond to the claims delivered a petition to the Assembly last week, and Mr. Peng Long defended the decision to write to Mr. Sokha asking him to explain the situation.
“When we received the new petition, we sent Kem Sokha a letter, but it doesn’t mean we summoned. It was just a letter to inform him there was a petition, and we were seeking his clarification,” Mr. Peng Long said.
“If he doesn’t answer, we don’t know what to do. But the letter is not a summons, since we have no right,” he added.
Contacted by telephone on Wednesday, Mr. Vun declined to comment because he was unhappy about a recent Cambodia Daily article noting his use of parliamentary letterhead for seemingly personal matters.
Yet outside the Assembly on Tuesday, Mr. Vun said a parliamentary inquiry into Mr. Sokha could be all-encompassing, citing the impeachment proceedings against former U.S. President Bill Clinton as an example.
“To clarify this case, there needs to be a number of witnesses who know about it to give answers to the National Assembly,” he said. “The National Assembly members put on this special committee to investigate would necessarily invite all involved persons to give answers.”
Asked whether that would involve summoning the alleged mistresses, one of whom has been publicly identified, Mr. Vun replied: “All the involved persons.”
The CNRP has said the idea of such an investigation is laughable, noting that the Assembly failed to establish investigative inquiries into events such as the beating of two opposition lawmakers at its gate last year.