Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh (centre left) waits with his wife on Saturday at the Phnom Penh International Airport’s VIP lounge before his flight to France. Fresh News
Chhay Channyda, The Phnom Penh Post Mon, 24 July 2017
The secretary-general of former General Nhek Bun Chhay’s Khmer National Unity Party will lead senior members to defect back to Funcinpec, he said yesterday, after some members of the breakaway party were dismissed from their government positions.
Chan Nora, the KNUP secretary-general, said that on Saturday he told Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the president of Funcinpec, of his decision to defect back to the royalist party from which the KNUP split in February 2016 after Bun Chhay and Ranariddh again fell out.
Other members of the KNUP board would follow him to Funcinpec, he said, but he declined to give a number. As an adviser to the Agriculture Ministry, Nora also acknowledged the switch was “to secure the position”, but added that it was “not that big of a deal”.
Twelve KNUP members were dismissed from their positions earlier this month in the wake of Bun Chhay’s dismissal from his own position last month, a move the government has blamed on his lack of loyalty and alleged overtures to the opposition party.
Funcinpec spokesman Nhep Bun Chin said that the royalist party – a former coalition partner of the Cambodian People’s Party whose members still hold government positions – understood the situation of the defectors, and would accept them.
“They were grateful to Nhek Bun Chhay when they received government positions some years ago, so when he created the party, they joined,” Bun Chhin said. “When there are problems in his party, they have no choice but to return back to the royalist party.”
A KNUP official who declined to give his name said the party was not in death throes after its secretary-general’s defection.
“We have thousands of members,” the official said.
Fresh News CEO Lim Cheavutha (in suit) gives money to the late political analyst Kem Ley’s mother that was donated by Prime Minister Hun Sen to pay for a stupa to honour the slain government critic. Fresh News
Touch Sokha, The Phnom Penh Post Mon, 24 July 2017
Prime Minister Hun Sen over the weekend donated a further $50,000 to the family of slain political commentator Kem Ley through Fresh News CEO Lim Cheavutha, according to the government-aligned news outlet, with the money going toward a memorial stupa.
Cheavutha last week delivered $10,000 on behalf of Hun Sen – who has sued multiple people, including former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, for saying he was behind the July 2016 murder – to cover funeral costs, and on Saturday gave $50,000 toward the stupa.
Kem Ley’s brother, Kem Rithisith, confirmed the donation by telephone yesterday. After accepting the donation on Saturday, he had told Fresh News the family of the slain analyst would not accept criticism from the public about their choice to accept the money.
“I appeal to the public to please not smear us. Samdech [Hun Sen] contributing to building Kem Ley’s stupa is to his merit – so please do not smear us. Our family takes the money for the ceremony and the stupa, not to favour any party,” Rithisith told the outlet.
“Please don’t attack us and say we are using the ceremony for business,” he said. “All of you are not in our family, so you do not understand the difficulties. If anyone wonders about the expenses of the anniversary ceremony, please come ask and we will explain.”
Sao Kosal, an official at housing rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut and member of the stupa construction committee, said the building would be done in a style mixing elements of the Phnom Chisor and Preah Vihear temples. It will be 5.2 by 9.5 metres at the base and 16 metres high, Kosal said, and will cost $170,000 in total, with the family hoping to raise more money.