The National Assembly has received a request from the Justice Ministry to lift the parliamentary immunity of SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, a move that will pave the way for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to proceed with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s defamation lawsuit against Ms Sochua, the former Minister of Women’s Affairs.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Friday that parliament’s nine-member permanent committee will hold a meeting on Monday afternoon at 3 pm to discuss whether or not to put the lifting of Ms Sochua immunity on the agenda of the National Assembly, which would necessitate a meeting of parliament two days after such a decision.
Mr Yeap, who is a member of the committee, said that he was optimistic that it would be approved, and that the Assembly would soon vote on Ms Sochua’s immunity, which he likened to a “raincoat.”
“It is just a request to lift the immunity temporarily, it is like the raincoat that has to be taken off,” Mr Yeap said, pointing to the time when the immunity of opposition leader Sam Rainsy was removed, and after he was forced to pay a fine, it was restored.
All the permanent committee members are from the ruling CPP, said Koul Panha, director of Com-
mittee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.
Ms Sochua said on Friday that she was not aware of the plan to lift her immunity, adding that she was not afraid of such a move.
“Fear is not in my feelings,” Ms Sochua said.
“If I was afraid, I would not have filed the complaint to the court because I know the person I sued was Samdech Hun Sen,” she added.
Ms Sochua’s original lawsuit, which was dismissed by the court this week, accused Mr Hun Sen of defaming her in a public speech in Kompot province. During that speech, the prime minister directed bawdy comments at an unnamed woman that many, including Ms Sochua, believed was the opposition lawmaker.
When Ms Sochua filed a lawsuit for defamation against the premier, he filed on back on the grounds that he had been defamed by Ms So-
chua’s claim that he had defamed her. The court has now thrown out Ms Sochua’s complaint, but his proceeding with the premier’s, a development from the courts the opposition lawmaker said did not surprise her
“I didn’t commit any wrongdoing,” Ms Sochua said, adding that the court process didn’t stand as a “state of law.”
Comfrel’s Mr Panha said that the momentum to remove parliamentary immunity weakened the legislature.
“It is beyond our thoughts, it creates a bad image for Cambodia especially that the National Assem-
bly lawmaker’s immunity is easily lifted,” Mr Panha said.
“It has become the precedent of the future that parliament and lawmakers are weak,” he said, adding that he doubted there would be much debate among the committee on Monday as they are all CPP members.