Constitutional Council Official Threatened

A prominent member of the Constitutional Council and one-time government critic on Wed­nesday said he has received dozens of menacing phone calls that could be construed as threats to his well being.

Say Bory, who last year was appointed to the influential council by King Norodom Sihanouk, said the harassment began on Nov 13 and each time came from a cryptic “001” phone number.

He said he was told that his patriotic teachings at the New Development Association, where he discusses alleged border encroachments made by other countries in Cambodia, lie at the heart of the threats.

“I do not understand….if they are Cambodians and they have a Cambodian heart, they would not want to kill me,” Say Bory said. “Only someone who does not want to see Cambodia develop and prosper would want to harm me. Because what I do there [at the school] is for good only.”

The calls prompted Say Bory to file a complaint with the In­terior Ministry. According to the document, one of the phone calls came through on a Sunday afternoon when Say Bory was heading to the association to teach.

His assistant answered the phone to hear: “Why are you still happy? Don’t you worry about dying?“

His assistant then answered: “We never did wrong. We never betray the nation. What could we be afraid of?….If you want to kill us, please come right now. We are all right here. Please come, we are waiting for you.”

The assistant then hung up the phone, and nothing happened after that, the statement said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the complaint has been sent to the top officials but no ruling has been made on whether to investigate.

He cautioned that threats in Cambodia are common, especially among those in politics, and said the “001” will make it harder to track down any suspects.

“They know how to use this number in Phnom Penh to make it look like it comes from overseas,” Khieu Sopheak said.

The former director of the Bar Association of Cambodia, Say Bory was appointed to the Constitution Council last year amid considerable controversy.

After the Supreme Magistracy Council held what critics called clandestine political meetings to appoint its three members to the nine-member council, one of King Norodom Sihanouk’s ap­poin­tees, Pung Peng Cheng, stepped down, saying he did not agree with the body’s formation.

During this time, Say Bory was a stringent critic of the council’s hasty formation and what he said were other appointees’ weak credentials. When the vacancy surfaced, the King offered him the job despite his outspoken nature.

At his swearing in last June, Say Bory vowed to lead the council to become a neutral body. Say Bory’s wife, Sum Nipha, is the former deputy governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, who retired last month to become an adviser to the King.

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