SRP lawmaker Son Chhay has accused senior CPP National Assembly member Cheam Yeap of using his power to intimidate the opposition, after he asked National Assembly President Heng Samrin earlier this month to deny opposition lawmakers their wages.
Mr. Yeap, chairman of the assembly’s finance committee, said in a letter to Mr. Samrin that the 11 lawmakers who plan to stand as candidates in July’s national election for the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)—which was formed in a merger of the SRP and Human Rights Party (HRP)—can no longer legally sit in the National Assembly.
But the Constitution and the Law on Elections of Members of the National Assembly, cited by Mr. Yeap, only states that lawmakers forfeit their membership of the assembly if they are no longer members of the parties under which they were elected.
Mr. Chhay wrote to Mr. Samrin on Thursday with a “request to inform lawmaker Cheam Yeap to stop using his power as a National Assembly committee chairman to intimidate the lawmakers regarding a wage freeze.”
“I would like to inform the president that, until now, none of the lawmakers of the SRP or HRP has officially announced their resignation from the two parties,” the letter says.
The letter also says the lawmakers became members of the CNRP in April, less than 6 months before the polls, which according to the law means that they do not need to give up their seats and are still entitled to their pay.
Kuol Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that assembly members’ wages should only be taken away if their membership of the National Assembly is invalid, which is not the case for the CNRP candidates.
“The National Assembly should not be used to politically oppress any party,” Mr. Panha said, adding that he thought Mr. Samrin should publicly correct Mr. Yeap “as an example to others.”
Koam Kosal, Mr. Samrin’s Cabinet chief, said that he had not yet received the letters sent by Mr. Yeap and Mr. Chhay.
“I have been busy in the provinces. I will be looking at them,” he said.