Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians and senators will set aside a portion of their salaries to support the family of jailed opposition lawmaker Cheam Channy, officials said on Sunday.
Opposition Acting President Kong Korm announced that the party’s 22 lawmakers and seven senators would each give $50 per month to the family.
“We distribute our salaries because we want to offer justice to Cheam Channy,” Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eang Chhay Eng confirmed.
The National Assembly’s permanent committee removed Cheam Channy from its list of parliamentarians and from its payroll earlier this month. The move followed Cheam Channy’s conviction in August on charges of sedition and fraud for allegedly forming a so-called “shadow” army.
Kong Korm wrote to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Friday, urging the prince not to remove Cheam Channy from the list of National Assembly parliamentarians.
“I would like to inform Prince Norodom Ranariddh that the [Assembly] permanent committee’s decision to invalidate Cheam Channy’s [membership in Parliament and] to replace him is lawlessness,” he wrote.
Kong Korm also mentioned that the Sam Rainsy Party would not replace Cheam Channy.
Cheam Channy’s wife, Chum Seang Leng, said that she had not received her husband’s salary for November. The loss of the paycheck is a hardship for her family as her husband had provided their sole source of income, she said.
Opposition lawmakers have repeatedly compared the Assembly’s removal of Cheam Channy with the case of renegade opposition parliamentarian Khem Veasna, whom they have sought to replace since he appeared to abandon the opposition and started criticizing the party’s leadership. In his letter to Prince Ranariddh, Kong Korm again requested Khem Veasna’s dismissal and replacement.
He accused Assembly leaders of sabotaging the Sam Rainsy Party by removing Cheam Channy and refusing to remove Khem Veasna.
National Assembly Deputy Secretary-General Chan Ven said that the Assembly can not invalidate Khem Veasna’s position unless the permanent committee decides to do so.
Chan Ven added that Khem Veasna’s case was not on the agenda of the permanent committee.