Lawmaker Asks Heng Samrin for Forgiveness; Punishment Stands

Responding to an apology from opposition lawmaker Um Sam An, who was punished last week for a critical Facebook post, National Assembly President Heng Samrin wrote on Saturday that the dispute would end with the decision to sanction the outspoken parliamentarian.

On July 14, Mr. Sam An wrote on Facebook that Mr. Samrin had violated his constitutional right to pose questions to the government by refusing to endorse a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen that included questions about land swaps with Vietnam and a request to halt border demarcation work until after the 2018 national election.

On Friday, the National Assembly’s CPP-majority permanent committee decided to punish Mr. Sam An for violating internal rules of the Assembly, banning him from the next 15 plenary sessions of parliament, cutting 50 percent of his salary for the next two months and posting notifications of his wrongdoing in every commune in his constituency in Siem Reap province.

Mr. Sam An sent a written apology to Mr. Samrin later on Friday.

“I used inappropriate words about Samdech President [Mr. Samrin] through Facebook and affected the honor of Samdech President,” the letter said.

“Every act so far is my fault and has seriously affected the reputation of the National Assembly and the honor of the president,” it continued. “Please, Samdech President, forgive me as a favor.”

In a hand-written response on the letter, Mr. Samrin agreed that the dispute would end with Friday’s punishment.

“I have seen [the letter] and forgive His Excellency Um Sam An and agree to end the issue with the disciplinary action,” Mr. Samrin wrote.

National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun, a CPP lawmaker, confirmed that the punitive action would still be enforced.

“We are not able to excuse His Excellency Um Sam An because the disciplinary action was a joint decision of the National Assembly’s permanent committee,” he said.

“Samdech President only agreed to forgive His Excellency Um Sam An to stop a criminal case from going to the court.”

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