Three founding members of radio personality Mam Sonando’s Beehive Social Democratic Party appeared at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday for questioning over a complaint they filed requesting the party be dissolved because its leader is corrupt.
Speaking outside the court, Heang Rithy, a vice president of the party, told reporters he explained to Judge Ly Sokleng that he filed the complaint against Mr. Sonando because he had been mismanaging money.
“Mr. Mam Sonando, the president, has used his dictatorial power, and secondly, he has been spending [party] funds without transparency,” he said.
The four officials who filed the complaint—Mr. Rithy, secretary-general Nhem Vanthorn, deputy secretary-general Heang Kim Soeun and deputy director of finance Ou Chanphalla—have said that Mr. Sonando refused to disclose the amount of money he was receiving from donors and had handled all of the party’s funds himself.
Mr. Rithy said that Mr. Sonando would also file expense claims without clear invoices.
“I will not work with corrupt people like this and [he] uses the word ‘democracy’ but in practice the use of the funds was corrupt and without transparency,” he said.
“I filed a suit on merits asking for dissolution [of the party] due to undemocratic expenditures…and I ask for the injunction order for temporarily stopping its activities,” Mr. Rithy said, explaining that he was pursuing the case to prevent Mr. Sonando from “cheating people.”
Mr. Sonando denied the accusations and claimed Mr. Rithy harbors a vendetta against him because he wanted to be the party’s sole vice president, rather than share the title with Harry Sam Ath.
“He’s exaggerating the truth…. Mr. Rithy did not want to have two vice presidents so he’s finding ways to cause problems,” Mr. Sonando said by telephone.
“I want to know how much money Mr. Heang Rithy paid to the party. And among all the members, how much money did they pay? There is none,” he added.