The Senate yesterday rubber-stamped a Penal Code amendment that punishes anyone who insults the King.
An extraordinary session of the National Assembly was held last week to discuss and then approve the Penal Code amendment, as well as amending five articles of the constitution and a draft law on business in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
The Council of Ministers drafted the Penal Code amendment on February 2, noting that insulting the King should be punished with imprisonment from one to five years and a fine from $500 to $12,500.
Oum Sarith, secretary-general of the Senate, said the Senate passed the laws with 45 votes approving them, and the Senate’s other seven members, from the Sam Rainsy Party and the Candlelight Party, abstaining from the vote.
“It was necessary to pass the amendments because we must protect the honour of the King,” he said.
Teav Vannol, a senator and president of the Candlelight Party, said some senators abstained because the laws were approved by an illegitimate National Assembly.
“The government and the Supreme Court dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party that had 55 lawmakers in the National Assembly,” he said. “They represented the stance of almost half the people in Cambodia and their voices are no longer heard.”
After the CNRP’s dissolution, their National Assembly seats were divided to other parties.
Mam Bun Neang, a CPP senator and spokesman of the Senate, said proper procedures were followed in the wake of the CNRP’s dissolution and that the amendments were legitimate.
“If they did nothing wrong, their party would not have been dissolved,” he said, adding that the senators who abstained dishonoured the King by doing so.