The ruling coalition partners resumed attacks on feisty opposition party leader Sam Rainsy Thursday night, airing broadcasts on national radio and television that advocated legal action against him.
A statement signed by 87 Funcinpec and CPP National Assembly members strongly hinted they would move to strip Sam Rainsy of his parliamentary immunity, which takes a two-thirds vote of the law-making body, or 82 votes.
“Eighty-seven parliamentarians from Funcinpec and CPP want to seek legal action against Sam Rainsy for his message to the people” the statement said.
“We all request the top institutions to take action to stop any action contrary to the Constitution, using any legal action possible…”
The remarks were the strongest yet in a series of public rebukes prompted by Sam Rainsy’s new year address in which he described the current government as “criminals, crooks and clowns.”
Sam Rainsy also exhorted Cambodians to reject the fatalism implicit in Buddhism and criticized current monarchical succession laws as too vague. CPP and Funcinpec leaders have since countered that the remarks were seditious and a violation of the Constitution, which forbids slander against the monarch.
“According to the words Sam Rainsy used, Sam Rainsy hates and feels horror for the people and the monarch,” Thursday’s statement said.
“The voters should have a representative who does not betray his nation and religion…. The National Assembly should not have a member who tramples on the motto of the nation…”
It continued, “The single voice of Sam Rainsy is not the voice of the people, but it is his personal voice, which has no validity.”
Sam Rainsy late Thursday dismissed the statement as an idle threat, prompted by “hard-line” elements in the CPP taking advantage of the King’s recent departure for Beijing.
He said National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh—who was among the signatories to the statement—would not endorse a move to strip Rainsy’s immunity because he would not want to “go down in history” as an opponent of democracy. “I will sleep well tonight,” he said Thursday. “I am confident reason will prevail.”