The US-based National Democracy Institute warned the Sam Rainsy Party that one of its outspoken lawmakers is no longer invited to the institute’s public forums, after he allegedly attacked the royal family verbally at one of its forums.
In a letter to Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay
Eang, dated May 31, the NDI complained that parliamentarian Khem Veasna violated the Constitution with his provocative comments at a May 29 forum.
Khem Veasna “has potentially endangered the [NDI’s] program and put NDI in the center of controversy. There is talk of possible legal action,” Mark Wallem, NDI senior resident director, wrote in the letter.
“Until further notice, we will not be able to invite H E Mr Khem Veasna to participate in NDI Constituency Dialogue programs,” he said, adding that the lawmaker’s speech made other participants uncomfortable.
In his letter, Wallem quoted Khem Veasna as saying that the monarchy “was created because they thought people were stupid and so they thought of ways to drink the citizens’ blood.”
Khem Veasna also drew fire from his own party.
Sam Rainsy issued a statement from France, dated Wednesday, condemning his lawmaker’s comments as incitement.
“This speech was wrong, unjust and inciting,” the opposition party leader wrote.
“The Sam Rainsy Party would like to affirm its firmest loyalty to the monarchy, which is the core element of Khmer identity,” he added.
The Sam Rainsy Party’s secretary-general, Eng Chhay Eang, said the party’s disciplinary team is working on the issue and has invited Khem Veasna to a meeting on Saturday.
“If he sticks to his speech, the only choice the party will take is to fire him from the party,” he said.
Reached Thursday, Khem Veasna downplayed his speech, saying his words were not as strong as people think.
“What I have said was not attacking any King,” he said. “It’s unjust that one corner of my words was used when the whole meaning was not. If people listened through they will understand what I mean. It was not any attack but just history.”