Mam Sonando, a popular radio host who last year founded the Beehive Social Democratic Party, has filed a defamation lawsuit against dissident monk But Buntenh for claiming he tried to purchase positions as a lawmaker and an official with the opposition 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.”
Mr. Sonando, who had endorsed the CNRP before forming his own party, said that But Buntenh had, in a video commentary posted to Facebook and YouTube on April 30 last year, claimed he had not joined the CNRP because he could not secure choice positions in the party.
“Mam Sonando was negotiating the price for his wife to become a lawmaker first, and he wanted to take a bigger position, but the CNRP agreed [only] to help Mam Sonando become a lawmaker for Kratie province, but Mam Sonando wanted both,” But Buntenh was quoted as saying by Mr. Sonando’s complaint. “That made Mom Sonando dissatisfied and not join the party.”
The complaint filed on Thursday noted But Buntenh’s Facebook account has 5,000 friends, the maximum allowed by the website, as well as 5,400 additional “followers,” indicating the comments had reached a wide audience and sullied Mr. Sonando’s reputation.
It also said Mr. Sonando had tried to settle the case by sending a letter to But Buntenh on August 23 asking him to retract the claim, but that the monk had later doubled-down on his claims in a radio interview.
But Buntenh could not be reached on Tuesday for comment.
Reached by telephone, a woman who identified herself as Mr. Sonando’s wife said the radio host was currently visiting Thailand and would not be able to comment on the case until he returned.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment and referred questions about Mr. Sonando to self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who did not respond on Tuesday to an emailed request for comment.