A former lawmaker from the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party has been granted political amnesty and requested defection to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, shortly after her personal medical practice was ordered closed.
Ly Srey Vyna, a former CNRP lawmaker and doctor, asked for amnesty in a letter sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 9, days after her eponymous clinic in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Tom Poung district was closed over a patient’s death.
“I have observed that some people inside and outside the countries have attacked Samdech [Hun Sen] unfairly and that I don’t like, she wrote in the letter. “So, I [ask] to voluntarily join in the development of the country and work in accordance with the Samdech’s leadership without any conditions.”
“Please Samdech, accept me as a Cambodian People’s Party’s member,” she added.
On November 12, a royal decree was issued granting Ly Srey Vyna amnesty, after Hun Sen sent a letter requesting that she be allowed to reenter politics. She was one of more than 100 opposition members who were banned from political activity in 2017.
Ly Srey Vyna refused to comment on the letter when contacted by VOA reporters on Friday.
The letter to join the CPP came three days after the Ministry of Health announced that Ly Srey Vyna Clinic was being closed because of medical malpractice after a patient died at the facility.
The sequence of events has led former CNRP members to suggest that the closure of the clinic was aimed at pressuring Ly Srey Vyna to join the ruling party.
Former CNRP deputy president Eng Chhai Eang, who is exiled in the U.S., said the Health Ministry’s decision to close the clinic was an attempt to force Ly Srey Vyna to change her political affiliations.
Another former party deputy president, Mu Sochua, cast doubt over the closure of a clinic over one death, calling for an independent investigation into the case.
“I think at any hospital, there are always people dying. It is just normal,” she said. “I think Ly Srey Vyna’s clinic has good services because my family and I have been treated there.”
Mu Sochua added that many former CNRP members and activists had been forced to defect to the CPP, casting doubts over Ly Srey Vyna’s decision to join the ruling party.
“In this [political] scenario, where our party was dissolved, our party leader was arrested and we are threatened every day. I think these defections are not a willful act,” she said.
Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesperson and a sitting senator, rejected any suggestions that Ly Srey Vyna was coerced into joining the Cambodian People’s Party, adding that the clinic closure was unrelated.
“She has lost belief in the former opposition party and the illegal rebel group,” he said referring to the former opposition leaders who are exiled overseas.
He did not comment on whether Ly Srey Vyna would be inducted into the government, given an official position in the party, or if she would be allowed to reopen her clinic.
Ly Srey Vyna is the latest of 14 senior CNRP members who have requested political rehabilitation. She and 117 other senior members of the opposition party were banned from politics for five years when the party was dissolved in November 2017.
Other senior CNRP members have requested amnesty and have either formed new parties themselves or through their family members. The new political parties include the Khmer Will Party, Khmer Conservatism Party, and the Cambodian Nation Love Party.