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

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol