Son Chhay Rips Ranariddh for His Removal His Removal

Tempers flared and barbs were exchanged in the National As­sembly this week as parliamentarian Son Chhay argued again that he has been illegally replaced as commission chairman.

In unusually pointed remarks, Son Chhay criticized National Assembly President Prince Nor­odom Ranariddh for endorsing his removal.

“If you want to better lead the legislature, you have to listen to the reasons offered by both sides. But the legislature has only heard one side now,” he said as the prince presided over a debate on a trademark bill.

The prince, visibly irritated, told Son Chhay to “stop raising this issue before the legislature, be­cause it is over.”

The prince said he has the right to stop legislators from speaking about matters unrelated to the scheduled topic.

Son Chhay, the only Sam Rain­sy Party member to chair one of the assembly’s nine commissions, was removed in Sep­tember as head of the commerce, transport, and telecommunications commission. Six of the nine commission members voted him out, saying he failed to keep them or the as­sembly’s leadership properly informed.

Son Chhay contends he was ousted for exposing cor­ruption, from the $2,500 monthly salary paid by MobiTel to Minister of Post and Telecommunications So Khun to no-bid deals at the Po­chentong and Siem Reap airports. The opposition party has urged Ranariddh to reinstate Son Chhay, noting that a 1997 agreement endorsed by King Noro­dom Sihanouk stated that the Sam Rainsy Party would head one commission.

Son Chhay was replaced by Funcinpec lawmaker Kim San in a unanimous vote by the commission’s Funcinpec and CPP members. No Sam Rainsy Party members voted.

Son Chhay noted that in 1997, when CPP members similarly removed two outspoken Fun­cinpec com­mission heads, then-Assem­bly Deputy President Loy Sim Chheang overruled the move, saying the removals were “illegal” and the commission chairmen’s five-year terms must not be abused.

Prince Ranariddh was un­moved. “I don’t know what Loy Sim Chheang did. There was no re­port about that,” he said.

Opposition member Sam Sun­doeun questioned how that could be possible.

“It’s not right that the record of the leader of the parliament can’t be found in the record file,” he said. “The letter has the exact date on it. Why can’t we find it?”

Funcinpec lawmaker Sok San defended Ranariddh.  “You have to respect democracy,” he told Sun Chhay. “If a majority [ousted you], don’t be clinging to power.”





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