Saturday, July 5, 2008

Princess Vichara Terms Proposed Ban on Royals From Politics 'Unjust'

By Soy Sophea
Reaksmei Kampuchea newspaper

The pro-government newspaper Phnom Penh Reaksmei Kampuchea in Cambodian on 22 March carries a report by Soy Sophea saying a proposed "ban on the royal family members to enter the political arena" has triggered a "clash" between Son Chhai, MP of the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP], and Princess Norodom Vichara, MP of the FUNCINPEC [National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia] Party.

On 21 March, the report adds, Son Chhai said, "Staying out of politics is to elevatepolitical prestige, and playing politics has caused those close to the King to be smitten with curses like commoners."

The report also says that although he recognizes the rights to participate in politics, Son Chhai asked Princess Vichara to understand that it was "impossible to have both [politics and royal status] together; it would create problems." "I do not want to make law, but the royals must understand their duties," he added. He cited the United Kingdom, Holland, and the Kingdom of Thailand, where the royal family members, albeit not forbidden, have steered clear of politics but engaged in social activities.

However, Son Chhai further said, "We should consider looking for ideas to make law to ban the royals from politics."

The report further says Son Chhai was "pessimistic" about the royal family members' involvement in politics, saying it would "affect the kingship if the royals continued a political life that was not supported by the citizens."

Further elaborating on the royal family members' involvement in politics, Son Chhai emphatically said, "Meddling with politics is not a guarantee of the monarchic regime." He added that since there were "curses in the political arena, it is better for the royals to enact their roles only in dealing with social affairs."

Speaking to reporters on 21 March, the report says, Heng Samrin, chairman of the National Assembly and honorary president of the Cambodian People's Party [CPP], "dismissed the report that now the CPP's new position was to terminate the royal family members' political life." "It is not true," he pointed out. However, he added, "We decline to comment on a proposal to make law to ban the royals from politics."

FUNCINPEC MP Princess Vichara expressed her "discontent" with the MPs' votes bringing down the royals, the report adds. She regarded it as 'discrimination." She also considered the ban on the royal family members from taking part in politics an "unjust" act. She said, "We do not choose our birth, so why should we be punished for our birth by depriving us of our rights to make politics? All the people are entitled to playing politics, be they royals or commoners, young or old," she concluded.

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