Mam Sonando Gives Up the Helm of Beehive Party He Founded

Prominent radio host and government critic Mam Sonando resigned on Friday from the Beehive Social Democratic Party he founded, saying the disappointing results of the commune elections had pushed his political ambitions in a new direction.

The party, among 12 competing for more than 11,000 local positions in the June 4 elections, won just a single councilor’s seat.

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Mam Sonando speaks at the inaugural congress of his Beehive Social Democratic Party in September 2015. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“When I received the results of the commune elections, I didn’t want to continue anymore,” Mr. Sonando said. “I do it for people. If people don’t support it, there is no meaning in continuing until the national election.”

Mr. Sonando, the 76-year-old owner of Beehive Radio, revived his long-dormant political party in 2015 after becoming disenchanted with the opposition CNRP. He had initially founded the party to stand in the 1998 election, but disbanded it after failing to win any National Assembly seats.

Mr. Sonando said he would stay as president of Beehive Radio, the station he founded in Phnom Penh, and remain in politics.

“I am a politician. I will still do politics, but I don’t do politics for people to vote for,” he said. Instead, he said he would do what was necessary to “reveal the truth, and do whatever to stop Khmer from fighting each other.”

Whether the party would continue or disband has been left to the party’s general committee, Mr. Sonando said. However, Huon Pannary, the current vice president, would be a potential candidate to take over as party president, he said.

During the party’s first congress, Mr. Sonando said he would take back all of Kampuchea Krom—now part of southern Vietnam—and the island of Phu Quoc, and would push for laws to protect gay people, and forbid police and soldiers from beating protesters.

Mr. Sonando gained headlines a year ago for filing a defamation lawsuit against dissident monk But Buntenh for claiming he tried to purchase positions as a lawmaker and an official with the CNRP.

In a filing to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Sonando accused the monk of having “broadcasted disinformation on social media that affected my reputation, affected my party duties and affected the hearts of my party’s supporters.”

But Buntenh in March told the Khmer Times that he was in the U.S. and would not answer a third summons in the case.

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