Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-CNRP deputy Pol Ham breaks silence, talks of safety concerns

Ex-CNRP deputy Pol Ham breaks silence, talks of safety concerns

Former CNRP Vice-President Pol Ham pictured at a restaurant in Phnom Penh on Friday morning, where he gave his first public remarks since the dissolution of the party last year.
Former CNRP Vice-President Pol Ham pictured at a restaurant in Phnom Penh on Friday morning, where he gave his first public remarks since the dissolution of the party last year. Heng Chivoan

Ex-CNRP deputy Pol Ham breaks silence, talks of safety concerns

Pol Ham, a former vice-president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, made his first public remarks since his party was disbanded by the government in November, telling a group of reporters at a cafe in Phnom Penh on Friday morning that he had remained silent due to fear he would be arrested.

“I had not thought that the Supreme Court could dissolve the CNRP and ban 118 [senior party members] from politics,” Ham said, referring to a widely criticised November court decision to dissolve the only opposition party capable of challenging the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“Right now, I’m quiet, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to speak or do anything,” he said. “It’s just that they take tape to shut my mouth, tie my hands. But some people criticise me for doing nothing.”

Ham’s comments came during a meeting with Candlelight Party President Teav Vannol, who reiterated his previous statements that his party would boycott the July election.

Vannol also compared the numerous small parties said to be joining the election to “fireflies” whose lights can turn on and off at any time.

“I believe those parties will be gone after the election, because they are just fireflies – not like the CNRP,” he said.

CPP spokesman and Senator Sok Eysan dismissed Ham and Vannol’s comments as a ploy “to gain political benefits.”

“It’s true that the court dissolved and banned [Ham] from politics, which means his hands and legs are tied, but it’s the court’s right and decision,” Eysan said. “The court followed the laws because the CNRP and those members violated the law.”

Candlelight Party President Teav Vannol, pictured in a Phnom Penh restaurant on Friday morning.
Candlelight Party President Teav Vannol, pictured in a Phnom Penh restaurant on Friday morning. Heng Chivoan

Ham, who is in his 70s, previously told the Post just after the arrest of CNRP president Kem Sokha on treason charges in September that he wanted to retire to a pagoda.

When Ham was asked by journalists why he and other former party members still in the country were not helping the jailed Sokha, Ham said it was Sokha’s lawyers and family members “who should know about Kem Sokha’s well-being in jail.”

“To me, I speak in the name of a citizen,” he said. “I don’t want any problems. I want to see negotiation.”

He also called on Sokha to be released due to lack of evidence, saying that the former party president would “not do anything to harm society or cause any violence at all” if he were free.

Vannol echoed that call, comparing the former CNRP president’s case to that of former Khmer National United Party leader Nhek Bun Chhay, who was released from prison earlier this week under court supervision.

Regarding the possibility that Sokha, like Bun Chhay, could be released from prison, Eysan said the decision was the court’s responsibility.

“Don't link case A to case B,” he said.

Vannol also said that although his party was boycotting the election, it stood ready to re-join “if the situation gets better”.

“I believe the Prime Minister will find a good solution to ease the political tension, and I still have hope until election day that all political parties can join the election, including the opposition,” Vannol said.

When Ham was asked if he, like Vannol, thought the political situation would improve before the upcoming election, he declined to give an opinion.

“I cannot predict everything,” Ham said. “If I could, I would be a fortune teller at Wat Phnom.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a