The Interior Ministry plans to monitor the Facebook page of former opposition president Sam Rainsy for violations of newly passed amendments to the Law on Political Parties, which will also force the CNRP to spend upwards of half a million dollars to erase his image from its signs.
The Constitutional Council, which signed off on the legislation that bars those convicted of crimes from conspiring with parties or being featured in their media, has, meanwhile, slammed a prominent critic of the new rules, describing his comments as “a violation” of Cambodia’s affairs.
Mr. Rainsy has continued posting on Facebook a daily news segment produced in Cambodia that he funds with his own money and has pinned a featured video claiming that “Son Ngoc Minh, the CPP’s Founding Father, is a national traitor.”
Chhim Kan, director of the Interior Ministry’s department for associations and political parties, said on Monday he would be watching Mr. Rainsy’s Facebook page for posts that violated the new rules, but it was too soon to say whether they had already done so.
Last night, Mr. Rainsy said in an email that he would not be self-censoring his Facebook page, which is overseen by Cambodian staff from Phnom Penh.
“Any ideas and proposals published on my Facebook page will be available for everybody—which covers all political parties without exception and without exclusion—in that they are conceived to serve the national interest,” he wrote.
His new status, he added, would not prevent him “from exposing the truth.”
“My newly-imposed position that is intended to be a punishment and to stifle my activities, is actually a blessing in disguise and will make my voice louder,” he said in the email.
Mr. Rainsy, who lives in exile in France amid a slew of legal charges widely seen as politically motivated, has tried to test the limit of the rules in recent posts, which feature him alongside Mr. Hun Sen and former King Norodom Sihanouk, among others.
The provocative post about Son Ngoc Minh, who died in Beijing in 1972, says the once-acting chairman of the precursor to the CPP was a puppet of the Vietnamese.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan on Monday said there would be no trouble since the law bars parties from “openly or tacitly agreeing or conspiring” with convicts for the political benefits of the party and Mr. Rainsy offered no such help to the CPP.
“He is a stupid man,” Mr. Eysan said. “He doesn’t know the content of the law.”
The largest impact of the law so far involves the CNRP’s signs, most of which feature party president Kem Sokha and Mr. Rainsy in a raised-arm embrace. The CNRP is facing the onerous task of scrubbing Mr. Rainsy from all the signs.
Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the effort, which is being coordinated by provincial party offices, would cost between $300,000 and $500,000.
“Party members, [party] officials and other generous people will donate,” he said, with the goal of replacing signs countrywide by the end of next month.
Parties have 90 days after Friday’s signing of the law to comply with its new rules.
On the same day that the amendments were passed, Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, panned the law for effectively barring Mr. Rainsy from participating in next year’s election.
“So the Constitutional Council members who voted for this should have the courage and self-respect to simply resign, instead of participating in this kind of charade,” he told Radio Free Asia.
Mr. Adams could not be reached for comment on Monday but the Constitutional Council issued a strongly worded statement, claiming Mr. Adams’ rhetoric amounted to a “violation of the independence, sovereignty, Constitution and internal affairs of the Kingdom of Cambodia.”
“The Constitution Council wishes to condemn and strongly reject the slander and ill intention of this individual that seriously violates the Constitutional Council and causes confusion in national and international opinion,” it said.