Funcinpec lawmaker Keo Remy’s fate is in the hands of the fragmented party’s president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, party officials said Thursday.
The officials said a proposal has been submitted to the prince to have Keo Remy “punished”—by expelling him from the party—for a controversial remark.
“This man has been in trouble with the party and faces being removed from the party,” said a party member who asked not to be named. “But this depends on whether or not the prince wants to fire him.”
Keo Remy said he, too, has heard the news. “I heard the party’s Disciplinary Committee proposed the firing, but I don’t know for sure,” he said.
Senior party official Khek Vandy, a member of the Disciplinary Committee, denied that such a proposal had been submitted.
Keo Remy said he testified Tuesday morning at a meeting of the disciplinary committee. He was called to defend himself against party members’ accusations that he acted disrespectfully.
At issue is the following remark Keo Remy made to The Cambodia Daily published onJuly 11: “I don’t want to meet the prince,” he said. “He never talks with us unless he has bad things to raise up with me.”
Funcinpec Steering Committee members were upset not so much by the statement as by the way it was described: The article said the lawmaker “showed his disdain…by refusing to meet with the prince.”
The Steering Committee met and decided “disdain” was disrespectful. During that meeting, Keo Remy sat silently.
On Thursday, Keo Remy called the whole incident “unintentional mistake.”
As a “man of principle,” he said, he did not want to blame the press. The quotation was accurate, he said, but “I did not use the term ‘disdain.’ That was the writer’s idea.”
The remark was overheard by reporters, not stated in an interview, he said. But he did not deny that he made the complaint.
“I hope His Royal Highness, the president, will give me justice,” he said. “It was an unintentional mistake I made.”
He mentioned cases in which he has protected Prince Ranariddh’s reputation, including one time when he sought the suspension of an opposition lawmaker who attacked the prince. He also cited his record of service to the party and the National Assembly.
The Steering Committee met again Thursday, although the Keo Remy case was not on the agenda. Committee member Minister of Public Works and Transport Khy Taing Lin mentioned Keo Remy’s situation during the meeting, Keo Remy said.
But members, including Prince Ranariddh, agreed the issue did not need to be dealt with Thursday because Keo Remy had already appeared before the Disciplinary Committee, Keo Remy said.
Keo Remy was the author of a recent legislative proposal to overhaul the National Election Committee, one of the few draft laws ever to originate from Funcinpec parliamentarians.
Workers’ rights advocates have come out in support of Keo Remy, who they say is their chief ally in the legislature.
Chhorn Sokha, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, met with Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh recently to urge party leaders not to fire Keo Remy.
“Keo Remy is a very good, active lawmaker—people and workers have confidence in him,” she said. “When workers complain about their job conditions, he is the only lawmaker to help us and ask Minister [of Social Affairs and Labor] Ith Sam Heng to solve our problems.”
She added, “We are not political and we don’t care about the internal problems in the Funcinpec party. But we demand that the active lawmaker Keo Remy be allowed to continue his work for us and the nation.”