After dismal results in the July elections and a grim outlook for their party’s future, more than 40 Funcinpec senior officials and thousands of grassroots supporters have defected to the CPP in the past month, a minister said.
Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he submitted the names of the Funcinpec defectors to the CPP for approval to join the ruling party.
“They leave from the left to the right pocket in the same trousers,” he said.
Ok Socheat, former ambassador to the Philippines and former advisor to Funcinpec President Keo Puth Rasmey, confirmed he has joined the CPP and was given a government advisor position equivalent in rank to a minister.
He added that he defected because he wanted to ensure unity in the country amid the military confrontation with Thailand.
“I have joined with the CPP to give extra strength to the CPP. The CPP won 90 seats. I want to contribute to developing the country; if I stay outside the CPP, I don’t have the opportunity,” he said.
According to Ok Socheat, Nou Kassie, former Funcinpec secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, and former Funcinpec Justice Minister Neav Sythong also defected to the CPP.
Neav Sythong could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Neither official could be contacted for confirmation on Tuesday.
Former Funcinpec Senior Minister Serei Kosal also confirmed his defection on Tuesday, saying he had finished his mission with Funcinpec and left amicably.
“It is the right decision for me to join the CPP because Samdech Hun Sen is leading in the right direction. I have wanted this kind of leadership for a long time,” Serei Kosal said, adding he did not see potential national leaders in the other parties.
Serei Kosal confirmed that he received a government advisor’s position from the CPP.
Ok Socheat also said that low-level Funcinpec members had also defected to the CPP in order to keep their government jobs at the provincial and district level.
“They want to keep their positions and earn a living; they are afraid that Funcinpec will collapse,” Ok Socheat said.
Funcinpec earned only two National Assembly seats in the July election, down from 26 in the 2003 election.
Funcinpec First Vice-President Lu Laysreng downplayed the defections, saying they would not affect the party.
“The party is weak, people are running away; it’s that simple. Those who remain loyal to the party will remain with the party,” he said.
“The party will never disappear.”