Parliamentarian Son Chhay, suspended for criticizing National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, will stay busy during his suspension, he said.
“I will spend more time in Siem Reap, with my constituency. And I have several conferences to attend, including one on poverty reduction and two on [fighting] corruption,” he said.
Son Chhay leaves today for Hanoi, where he will attend a conference on poverty reduction sponsored by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Next week, he travels to Manila, the Philippines, for an anti-corruption conference, then to Bangkok for another conference in January, Son Chhay said.
On Friday, he was banned from the parliament for the next 15 sessions after criticizing Prince Ranariddh for not presiding over the morning’s session.
Prince Ranariddh said later he missed the session because he had an appointment to meet guests, and that he had designated someone to preside in his place.
“Son Chhay has contempt for me,” he told members, saying he “suffered” from the verbal “attack.” The prince asked the assembly’s permanent committee to discipline Son Chhay.
Parliaments around the world routinely allow members to criticize each other and the leadership. In England, the House of Commons schedules regular “question times” when political opponents confront the prime minister directly on issues of the day. The televised sessions have become popular with English voters, who tune in to see how cleverly the critics can plant their barbs and how deftly the leadership can deflect them.
In Cambodia, however, the permanent committee responded by suspending Son Chhay and cutting his salary in half for the next two months. On Saturday, Funcinpec issued a news release blasting him for “bad manners” for arguing loudly in the assembly.
Son Chhay served on the permanent committee until September, when he was ousted from his post as chairman of the commission on commerce, transport and telecommunications. He was the only opposition party member to serve in either position.