The National Election Committee has sent a request to the National Assembly asking for money to be deducted from the lawmaker salary of SRP President Sam Rainsy to pay fines related to this year’s national election.
“The [NEC] has sent a letter to request that Samdech President of the National Assembly [Heng Samrin] in order to take measures to deduct…Sam Rainsy’s salary because he has refused to pay a fine for abusing the election law,” the NEC said in a statement dated Monday.
The NEC fined Sam Rainsy $2,500 for insulting CPP leaders while campaigning in multiple provinces ahead of the July election. In September, the SRP leader was given 30 days to pay the fine, the NEC statement said, but Sam Rainsy has not done so.
Sam Rainsy has previously denied defaming anybody in the run-up to the election and has publicly declared that he would not pay the fine.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that if the Assembly does not comply with the request to deduct the fine from Sam Rainsy’s pay, the NEC will take the matter to the courts.
He added that seven other people were fined by the NEC—including a $1,250 penalty handed to CPP Senior Minister Ly Touch—but all have paid except Sam Rainsy.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who heads the Assembly’s finance commission, said that Heng Samrin has not yet received the NEC request, but once he does the matter would be taken up by the Assembly’s permanent committee. If the request complies with the law, the committee will deduct the $2,500 from Sam Rainsy’s salary, which Cheam Yeap put at about $1,000 per month.
“We would deduct little by little,” he said. “We will give him some money to spend.”
SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua reiterated by telephone Tuesday the opposition’s stance that Sam Rainsy had not defamed the CPP leadership, but rather only pointed to a report by the environmental watchdog Global Witness.
Global Witness’ controversial 2007 report, which accused senior officials of plundering Cambodia’s natural wealth, was banned by the government shortly after its release.
“[Sam Rainsy] did not defame the CPP leaders; he let the people consider it by themselves,” Mu Sochua said. “He showed the Global Witness [report] to people. They should prosecute Global Witness. He didn’t have any intention of defaming the CPP’s leaders.”