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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More than 10 Funcinpec government officials defected to the CPP

Monday, January 07, 2008
Koh Santepheap newspaper
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

Phnom Penh – Khieu Kanharith, CPP spokesman and minister of information, said on Friday 04 January that about 10 Funcinpec government officials, holding the rank of ministers and state secretaries, have defected to the CPP. On the other hand, Funcinpec party officials also claim that it is true that about 10 Funcinpec party members defected to the CPP since long ago, except that they did not dare reveal their defections openly.

The defection of Funcinpec officials to the CPP take place at the same time as the general election is approaching. A source close to Funcinpec revealed that the defectors are:

1. Kong Vibol, the state secretary of the ministry of economy and finance,
2. Muong Khim, an official from the ministry of Interior,
3. Nuth Sokhom, the minister of health,
4. Chumteav Ing KanthaPhavy, the minister of women affairs,
5. Chea Peng Chheang, the state secretary of the ministry of economy and finance,
6. Chumteav Senator Khlot Tong Phka,
7. Khun Haing, the minister of cult and religion,
8. Trak Thai Sieng, the deputy governor of Phnom Penh,
9. Veng Sereivuth, the minister of culture and fine arts,
10. Kol Pheng, the minister of education,
11. Sun Chanthol, the minister of public works and transport.

Nov Sovathero, Funcinpec spokesman, declared that, indeed, there were defections of Funcinpec officials to the CPP, and for the majority of them, their defections were known since long ago. He added: “The management of people is not an easy thing, because we don’t know what they are thinking. … This is not something new because we knew that some let it be known about their actions and their unhappiness with the party leadership, whereas others have high hopes on their new party.”

At the end of December 2007, Prince Ranariddh said that the Funcinpec party faces serious internal discord that cannot be mended, and even the party leadership cannot mend this discord. Prince Ranariddh said: “We stop talking about the Funcinpec party from now on, because they fomented a coup de party to remove me from the party presidency in October 2006.”

Nov Sovathero claimed that: “Funcinpec has (internal) discord since long ago, this is like a cracked glass.” He added that this discord started since Prince Ranariddh was still leading the party, and if the prince was clever, he should have mended the discord way back when. However, Nov Sovathero said that a number of the officials listed above have not made up their minds yet, these include: Kol Pheng, Sun Chanthol, Nuth Sokhom, and Veng Sereivuth, but for all the others, they have already defected.

On 06 January, Koh Santepheap tried to reach the officials listed above to ask for their explanations on this issue, but we couldn’t reach any of them. However, Nov Sovathero added: “Even a couple of husband and wife who are close to each other, sometimes, they cheat each other, and for members of a political party, we cannot look inside their minds.” Nov Sovathero said that these defections will surely affect the party goals, however, the party cannot bar these individuals from defecting. When asked about the future of Funcinpec with the arising of such event, Nov Sovathero declined to comment.

Nhiek Bun Chhay, Funcinpec secretary-general, told VOA that there seems to be pressure applied from the other party (CPP), and all these Funcinpec officials had no choice but to defect to the CPP. Nevertheless, Nov Sovathero declared that there are a number of Funcinpec government officials at the provincial and municipality levels who also defected to the CPP since long ago, such as Thach Khon and Say Hak (governor of Sihanoukville).

Ok Socheat, a high-ranking Funcinpec official, declared that this is political labyrinth for every political party. He claimed that some Funcinpec party officials defected to serve the CPP since long ago, like Ou Bun Long and Kong Vibol, for example. Khun Haing also defected long ago, and the majority of those defectors are people who were close to Prince Ranariddh. Nov Sovethera added: “They want to preserve their (juicy government) positions for the remaining few months, or they can represent their new party for the election also, and since the National Assembly mandate is not expired yet, there will be no position shuffling that will take place.” We praise the Funcinpec party leadership which (decided) to preserve the government positions for these party defectors. There is no immediate reaction from the CPP yet about the comments made by Nhiek Bun Chhay.


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