The National Assembly’s secretariat-general and finance commission are considering cutting the salaries of the CNRP’s 55 lawmakers over their ongoing boycott of parliament for immunity violations, officials said on Monday.
Since police attempted to arrest deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha last month, the CNRP has been boycotting the Assembly, noting that two of its lawmakers—Um Sam An and Hong Sok Hour—are already in jail despite their immunity from arrest.
After a meeting on Monday morning, the Assembly’s standing committee decided to look into whether opposition lawmakers should be paid if they fail to show up for work, according to a statement, which cited “a reaction from Cambodian society,” but did not elaborate.
Leng Peng Long, the spokesman for the Assembly’s secretariat-general, said he and the CPP-headed banking and finance commission would ask the CNRP’s lawmakers why their salaries should not be cut and their government-issued vehicles seized while they are absent.
“Since Kem Sokha got in trouble, they have never come to work, but they get their salaries as normal,” Mr. Peng Long said. “The committee will discuss their reasons. In any case, they cannot stop [working] due [to] the personal case of one person.”
“They also use the state cars to hold demonstrations and to march. In order to confiscate them, it needs a decision from the standing committee,” he added.
The heads of the Assembly’s 10 commissions receive an SUV in addition to their salaries, as well as funding for commission work, such as excursions to the provinces and research. The CPP and CNRP each head five commissions.
CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun, a member of the Assembly’s standing committee and a spokesman for the CPP in parliament, said he would support scrapping the CNRP lawmakers’ salaries as they were openly violating public finance laws.
“They never come to work, never come to participate in the commissions,” Mr. Vun said. “They don’t come to work, so why are they able to get salaries?”
“We’ve seen they are marching to submit petitions to protect Kem Sokha,” he added. “So where are the correct activities where they work to serve the people?”
CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham, who heads the Assembly’s commission on the environment and water resources, said he was not worried about losing his salary and that being a lawmaker was about more than turning up at the Assembly building.
“The National Assembly members are working. It’s not only about sitting in there,” he said. “We were elected by the people, so if they want to cut our salaries, we will let the people judge this.”
His colleague Eng Chhay Eang, who heads the commission on human rights, said the CPP would only damage its political brand more by being so petty.
“We don’t care about it,” he said. “If they want to cut it, people won’t agree, because…it is a political issue.”