CNRP Youth Leader Resigns Ahead of Reforms

The head of the CNRP’s youth movement said on Monday that he is stepping aside as the opposition party prepares to overhaul the structure of its youth wing, forming a 100-person council instead of the current five-person “working group.”

Hing Soksan, 35, who has been the leader of the party’s youth movement since the CNRP was formed in 2012, said that he was simply too old to stay in the position.

Opposition supporters gather outside the CNRP's headquarters in Phnom Penh in May. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Opposition supporters gather outside the CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh in May. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“I told the youths to prepare themselves and be ready to continue in my position because I am too old,” he said.

He said he was not sure what he would do next within the CNRP, or who might replace him. “I have no right to select the candidate on my own to become the youth leader, but I want to see transparency for the youth through democratic voting” for a replacement, he said.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that the party was planning fundamental reforms of its youth movement as “the existing structure is a bit narrow.” It previously had been led by Mr. Soksan and four other youth members who occasionally convened with party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha.

Mr. Sovann said the party would form a 100-member “youth council,” composed of 50 members elected by provincial youth committees and 50 members appointed by the party’s standing committee.

Members would elect a chairperson and chief of the youth executive committee to lead the council, Mr. Sovann said. Council members would not have seats in the party’s main decision-making committees, but could be promoted after proving themselves, he said.

“When they are a little older, they can move to party leadership—to the steering committee, or the standing committee,” he said.

Kounila Keo, a policy analyst with a master’s degree from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, said that youth members of the CNRP currently rely largely on provincial party leaders to represent them at the national level.

“Therefore, I think this could be a good strategy to consolidate countrywide youth support by bringing them closer to the party center in Phnom Penh,” Ms. Keo said in a message.

“It’s actually good to see the party undertaking internal reforms which will make it more transparent and give opportunities to the younger generation to rise up the ranks without facing nepotism and favoritism.”

The CPP’s main youth wing, the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, is headed by Hun Many, 33, the youngest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen and a lawmaker in Kompong Speu province. Among its most prominent members are Say Sam Al, 36, the environment minister and son of CPP Secretary-General Say Chhum.

The CNRP has not been immune from claims of nepotism. Mr. Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya, 34, is the youngest member of the party’s 26-member standing committee and its deputy director of public affairs.

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