PHNOM PENH —
An opposition lawmaker has distanced himself from a letter posted online in which he allegedly labeled the head of his party a traitor and sought to join the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
Ngim Nheng, a lawmaker for Pursat province who has fled Cambodia to Australia amid political tensions that saw the head of his party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, jailed on treason charges, said the letter was not written by him and called on the interior ministry to investigate the forgery.
The letter, posted online on November 1, says: “When I discovered [CNRP president] Kem Sokha was a traitor and dividing the party, I decided to give up political life with the CNRP.”
However, speaking by phone from Australia on Monday, Nheng said the letter was a forgery intended to damage his public standing.
He said a “bad group” had fabricated the letter which amounted to a “serious crime” that the authorities should investigate.
The damage limitation attempt may be too little too late, however, as the letter spread rapidly on Khmer social media and amid a public offer from Prime Minister Hun Sen for opposition MPs to join the CPP before the Supreme Court orders the CNRP dissolved for allegedly breaking election laws.
Hun Sen has said that CNRP lawmakers who do not take him up on the offer could be banned from engaging in political activity for five years.
A decision from the Supreme Court is due on November 16.
The apparent forgery released last week is the latest in a slew of similar letters published online, the veracity of which have all been denied by their alleged authors in the opposition.
Khieu Sopheak, interior spokesman, said the government would investigate Nheng’s case if he filed an official complaint.
Sokha was arrested and charged with treason in early September for allegedly plotting to overthrow Hun Sen and receiving instructions from a foreign power as to the most effective methods to do so.