CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said yesterday that a lawmaker’s wages could be docked without his or her permission even though neither parliamentary rules nor the country’s laws address this issue.
Mr Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly commission on banking and finance, said in a letter received yesterday that he wished to clarify remarks made Sunday in which he said the Assembly could not deduct unpaid fines from the salary of SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua without her permission.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court said last week that it would not arrest Ms Sochua, who has refused to pay a $2,125 fine for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen, until the court had received from Ms Sochua $2,000 in compensation also awarded to the premier.
The court notified Ms Sochua on Friday that, at the request of Mr Hun Sen’s lawyer, the money would be deducted directly from her salary.
Asked whether Ms Sochua’s salary could be cut, Mr Yeap said Monday: “Nobody can cut a lawmakers salary unless the lawmaker agrees.”
Clarifying his remarks, Mr Yeap said yesterday: “If the court decides either to confiscate property or salary it is the court’s right.”
Contacted yesterday, Judge Sok Heang said he had not yet sent an official request for the docking of Ms Sochua’s salary to pay Mr Hun Sen’s compensation. He also said that he had received a second request from an unnamed person to garnishee Ms Sochua’s wages.
“I did not send the letter to the Assembly about reducing her payment yet,” Judge Heang said.
“I am still studying this letter to me asking to cut Ms Sochua’s payment,” he said.
Ms Sochua said yesterday that she had not received any communications from the court since Friday’s letter and did not know of any rules or laws regulating the process that could cut her wages to pay the fine, which she has refused to do so voluntarily.
“If the court is ruled by law, this should not be a gray area,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)