Opposition parliamentarian Khem Veasna has been suspended from his party’s steering committee and barred from calling himself a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker following his recent verbal attack on the monarchy.
Khem Veasna was suspended on Saturday after he refused to answer a disciplinary committee’s questions related to his criticism of the royal family at a May 29 public forum organized by the US-based National Democratic Institute, opposition officials said Sunday.
NDI senior resident director Mark Wallem wrote to the Sam Rainsy Party last week informing them Khem Veasna would no longer be allowed to participate in his organization’s Constituency Dialogue programs because of his comments.
Defending his criticism of the royal family—which he accused of “drinking the citizens’ blood”—Khem Veasna said Sunday that his attack was not aimed at the Khmer royal family, but at royal families around the world.
“The Constitution bans criticism against the King of Cambodia” but not all royal families, Khem Veasna said, adding that the sanctions imposed on him by his own party were the result of his criticism of SRP appointments.
“Because I am opposed to their appointment system of parliamentary candidates, I am a thorn in their eyes,” Khem Veasna said of his colleagues.
Khem Veasna has called for grass-roots activists and not party officials to choose opposition candidates for elections.
On Sunday, he also blasted leader Sam Rainsy’s condemnation of his attack on the monarchy, calling the party chief’s statement “Prejudice against me from overseas.”
Opposition secretary-general Eng Chhay Eang said Sunday there were no plans to dismiss Khem Veasna from the party.
Though he can continue to call himself a member of parliament, Khem Veasna is barred from calling himself a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Eng Chhay Eang said.
Comments made by Khem Veasna were his own personal opinions and did not reflect the views of the opposition, he added
Khem Veasna responded on Sunday stating that he did not care if he could not longer call himself a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, a name which he dubbed “a thief’s name.”