National Assembly Vice President Kem Sokha has requested the appointment of Lao Mong Hay, a prominent political analyst and former ally in the resistance movement against the Vietnamese-backed government in the 1980s, as a personal adviser, according to a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin.
Muth Chantha, Mr. Sokha’s cabinet chief, said Friday that the appointment had not yet been finalized through a Royal Decree, but that the selection was made based on Mr. Mong Hay’s “merit, knowledge and experience.”
“He is a known figure as he has worked very deeply in Cambodia’s democratization and the realization of human rights in Cambodia,” Mr. Chantha said. “He is one of the most knowledgeable people to help [Mr. Sokha] realize his parliamentary mandate.”
The letter from Mr. Sokha to Mr. Samrin, dated December 3, also requests the appointment of Say Bory, an attorney who previously defended former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, as a personal adviser.
“I request Samdech President to help facilitate the appointment of my two personal advisors as listed below: Dr. Say Bory and Dr. Lao Mong Hay, to have rank as ministers,” Mr. Sokha says in the letter.
In September, shortly after being voted into his parliamentary leadership position, Mr. Sokha, also the vice president of the opposition CNRP, requested the appointment of 21 advisers. Mr. Chantha said Friday that 14 had already been approved by Royal Decree.
National Assembly Second Vice President Nguon Nhel, a CPP lawmaker, had the appointment of 63 advisers approved by King Norodom Sihamoni in October.
Mr. Mong Hay, the former executive director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy, could not be reached Friday.
Both Mr. Mong Hay and Mr. Sokha were active in the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF), led by Son Sann, which along with forces loyal to Norodom Sihanouk and Pol Pot fought against the Phnom Penh government installed by Vietnam after toppling the Khmer Rouge.
Mr. Mong Hay, who was a lecturer at KPNLF-controlled camps along the Thai border, led the faction in talks to end the civil war in 1991. Mr. Sokha first entered the National Assembly as a lawmaker for Son Sann’s Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party.
Speaking about Mr. Sokha last year, Mr. Mong Hay said that the deputy opposition leader had a populist appeal that set him apart from CNRP President Sam Rainsy.
“Between the two, Sokha has more charisma,” he said at the time. “He speaks the language of the common people.”