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Parliament to Review Opposition Lawmakers’ Salaries

Empty seats, right side, which is believed to be sited by opposition of Cambodia National Rescue Party's parliamentary as Prime Minister Hun Sen, rear center, sits in the session hall of National Assembly with party lawmakers of the Cambodian People Party, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, file photo.

The CNRP lawmakers have boycotted parliament since May when an attempt was made to arrest its deputy leader, Kem Sokha.

Ruling party lawmakers have requested a review of opposition MP’s salaries and payments in light of their ongoing absence from the legislature, a statement from the National Assembly released on Monday said.

An ongoing boycott of the assembly by Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers, it said, had not seen a reduction in salaries and other expenses claimed by the opposition.

Chheang Vun, a spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said opposition parliamentarians had continued to make use of state property without attending any parliamentary sessions.

“State property is used to serve the state. The cars are for the committee chairmen to use for work, not for carrying petitions,” he said, in an apparent reference to the use of cars provided by parliament for partisan campaigning by the CNRP.

In late May, opposition lawmakers submitted petitions to the Royal Palace using some 20 cars, many of which had state license plates.

Son Chhay, chief whip of the CNRP, said Chheang Vun did not have evidence to support his claims, adding that the opposition had given parliament a month’s notice of their plan to boycott due to alleged violations of some of its members’ immunity from criminal investigation.

“We have not seen any response... regarding political affairs, there’s no law specifying a reduction of salaries or the seizing of state cars like [Chheang Vun] mentioned,” he said.

However, the internal regulations of parliament do state that if a lawmaker is absent for three consecutive days they can be stripped of all allowances.

The CNRP lawmakers have boycotted parliament since May when an attempt was made to arrest its deputy leader, Kem Sokha, in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations he solicited the services of a prostitute.

Two lawmakers and more than a dozen supporters and activists from the opposition have been jailed since the 2013 election in various cases that critics have said were politically motivated.