Kem Sokha’s Assistant Alleges Graft in CNRP

One of CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha’s personal assistants has been threatened with disciplinary action from the opposition party after she accused Mr. Sokha on Saturday of privately scolding CNRP President Sam Rainsy for being involved in massive corruption.

Speaking at the first national convention of political commentator Kem Ley’s “Khmer for Khmer” advocacy group, Lak Sopheap, who had a public falling out with Mr. Sokha last month, said he had made the claim during a party steering committee meeting held earlier this month.

Lak Sopheap, one of CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha’s personal assistants, attends a rally to mark International Women’s Day in March. (CNRP)
Lak Sopheap, one of CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha’s personal assistants, attends a rally in Phnom Penh to mark International Women’s Day in March. (CNRP)

“On the 5th [of December], Mr. Kem Sokha criticized that from about $30 or $40 million, Mr. Sam Rainsy took $20 million,” she said. “I cannot participate in a society that has leaders committing corruption.”

Ms. Sopheap, who has been involved in Cambodia’s opposition movement since Mr. Rainsy launched his Khmer Nation Party in November 1995, did not elaborate on her claims, but commended Mr. Ley for his new political movement.

“Khmer for Khmer is the way for all parties to adjust their internal rules to reach real democracy, without discrimination and cronyism on behalf of the leaders,” she said. “The people have suffered because of the leaders.”

Contacted Sunday, Ms. Sopheap said she was unable to elaborate on her claims.

Ms. Sopheap said that during the December 5 meeting, Mr. Sokha had cited her as the source of the corruption claim, but that, in fact, she knew nothing about it.

“Mr. Kem Sokha said that I had told him that Mr. Sam Rainsy took the money…and I was shocked during the meeting that he placed me like this,” she explained.

“I did no such thing, and so I denied it.”

Mr. Rainsy, who is currently in France, declined to comment on the claims Sunday and referred questions to CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann, who could not be reached.

However, Muth Chantha, Mr. Sokha’s cabinet chief, said that Ms. Sopheap, who remains one of Mr. Sokha’s assistants, had fabricated her story and that the CNRP leadership is considering punishment.

“I categorically deny such an ill-intended accusation. As we know, she is trying to move around and accuse everybody,” he said. “We don’t care much about her accusation, but the party will take her for disciplinary action.

“Until now, we won’t say anything about her removal from the party or as a personal assistant, but within the party there are internal regulations,” Mr. Chantha said.

“If she is a party official and a member of the steering committee, she should have gone through the internal system to file a complaint,” he said.

“By going public, it is flagrantly violating the party constitution and party bylaws. As a party member, she has to follow the rules. Of course, she has the right to speak up, but she should find the best way to launch the complaint rather than launching a complaint by making such groundless accusations.”

Mr. Ley, the political analyst who founded “Khmer for Khmer” as a reform advocacy group in October, said that Ms. Sopheap’s claims were her own and do not represent the views held by the leadership of his group.

“I don’t know if this information is true or not true because I have not explored this information,” Mr. Ley said.

“At yesterday’s meeting I observed at least five CNRP members come to attend,” he said. “They are not members of Khmer for Khmer, including Lak Sopheap, who is not a member of Khmer for Khmer because she is in the CNRP.”

“I don’t know if they are CNRP spies or what.”

Since the creation of “Khmer for Khmer,” Mr. Ley has faced accusations from within the CNRP that he harbors intentions to turn the group into a political party before the February 2017 commune council elections.

Mr. Ley says he only intends to promote democracy.

dara@cambodiadaily.com, willemyns@cambodiadaily.com

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