Two more Sam Rainsy Party members of the National Assembly and a senior official with the opposition party have defected to the ruling CPP, officials said Sunday.
Kandal lawmaker Ngor Sovann and Kompong Thom lawmaker Sok Pheng have turned in their resignations and joined the CPP on Friday, said SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang. The pair is joined by Chhith Sarith, a former member of the SRP board of directors and the deputy secretary-general of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes.
Upon joining the ruling party, both lawmakers received positions as advisers to the government carrying a rank equivalent to a minister, Eng Chhay Eang said.
He added that the SRP is not concerned by these latest defections, which come close on the heels of the defection of Kompong Cham SRP lawmaker Ahmad Yahya the previous week.
“They have the right to choose any political party that they like,” Eng Chhay Eang said, adding: “We have enough human resources to replace them—the new people are even better than them.”
Ngor Sovann will be replaced by SRP Kandal provincial council member Pot Pov, and Sok Pheng will be replaced by SRP Kompong Thom provincial council member Ket Khy.
Ngor Sovann said Sunday that he had left the SRP because the party leadership was guilty of nepotism and promoting large donors to the party over more competent individuals.
“Those who worked hard but didn’t give money [to the party], the party would find a mistake to blame us with,” he said, adding that he chose the CPP because he felt it to be the best party.
A woman answering Sok Pheng’s telephone Sunday said that he was too busy to speak with a reporter. Despite being the SRP’s only lawmaker for Kompong Thom province, Sok Pheng was removed as the head of the SRP’s Kompong Thom provincial council in July.
Chhith Sarith said that he too was fed up with the SRP.
“This is my final choice, the SRP does not value human beings,” he said.
Unlike the two lawmakers, Chhith Sarith was not given a new position, but he said that because his job on the land dispute authority was a government post, he would likely retain it.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap confirmed that the two lawmakers had joined the CPP, and that they had been handed adviser positions.
“Any lawmaker who joins the CPP will receive government adviser positions equal to a minister,” he said, adding that Ahmad Yahya was given such a post.
However, not all political defectors will be given such high-ranking jobs, he said, unless they are found to be qualified.
Eng Chhay Eang criticized the CPP for buying off officials from other parties.
“Political parties should behave ethically. A party should not need to purchase people,” he said.
Cheam Yeap rejected the accusation, saying: “The CPP does not buy people.”