The National Assembly will hold an extraordinary session on Wednesday on some agendas including an amendment to the Penal Code that gives jail time to anyone insulting the King.
The National Assembly’s permanent committees held a meeting yesterday afternoon presided by assembly President Heng Samrin to discuss the extraordinary session as well as amending five articles of the constitution.
The assembly will hold a plenary session on Wednesday about the Penal Code amendment, the five constitutional amendments and a draft law on business in the development region of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
“We are preparing to hold the plenary session meeting on February 14,” Chheang Vun, spokesman of the ruling CPP, told reporters at the National Assembly after the meeting.
Mr Vun said the committee discussed amending the Penal Code to seriously punish anyone insulting the King or other government leaders. Many countries had similar laws protecting government leaders and lawmakers, he noted.
“Cambodia needs to have a law in the future to protect the country’s leaders because since 2012, people have been using social networks to foment a colour revolution,” he said.
Mr Vun added that the National Assembly meeting with Funcinpec party lawmakers was easier than previous meetings with lawmakers from the now-dissolved CNRP.
The Council of Ministers issued a press release following a meeting to draft the amendment on February 2, stating that insulting the king shall be punished with imprisonment from one to five years and a fine from $500 to $12,500.
The creation of laws against insulting the king follows comments made by former deputy prime minister Lu Lay Sreng last year, who compared the king to a castrated rooster and was charged with defamation.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana told the cabinet that in Thailand anyone who insults the king faces three to 15 years in jail.
“So, in Cambodia to protect the name of our revered king who is the head of state as stated in Cambodia’s constitution, anyone who insults the king shall be considered a criminal,” he said.
Mr Vong Vathana noted that state prosecutors would not need a formal complaint to be filed by the King to take legal action against individuals who defame the royal family.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said the punishments were not as serious as other countries, but were needed nonetheless.
“Our law concerning the punishment of wrongdoers for insulting the King is not as serious as those in Thailand and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “However, Cambodia needs to have a proper law in this regard given that in the past, people have insulted the King.”