PHNOM PENH —
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has said it is taking legal advice over a campaign slogan used by the opposition which they alleged the call for change was “incitement”.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party slogan “Change commune chiefs who serve the party and replace them with commune chiefs who serve the people” was "seriously insulting", a statement issued by the CPP claimed.
Sok Eysan, CPP spokesman, said the party had contacted lawyers and would consider legal action, adding that CPP commune chiefs had served the people without political bias.
Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, said the slogan had been in use since 2012.
“The slogan refers to any commune chiefs who serve their party [above the people]. We encourage all commune chiefs to serve the people. There are not only CPP commune chiefs. The Sam Rainsy Party also has commune chiefs, so does the Human Rights Party,” he said.
Sovann declined to comment on whether the CNRP would stop using the slogan.
A group of CPP officials have publicized a counter-slogan, calling on people not to allow “fake” commune chiefs to replace them.
The CPP won the majority of seats in the 2012 commune elections, securing more than 8,000 of the nearly 11,500 council seats up for grabs. It won all but 41 of the 1,633 commune chief positions.
Petitions have been circulating among ruling party commune chiefs, such as Voeuk Samoeun of Phnom Penh’s Dangkor commune.
“Despite belonging to a party, when elected they serve the people, since the party advises them to serve the people,” Samoeun said. “We think these words should not be used since it affects thoughts and feelings”.
Hong Kimsuon of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the slogan was not incitement.
“The question is, will the ruling party use the ... law governing political parties that could lead to the dissolution of opposition groups, which was passed recently, to study the opposition slogan?”