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Beehive Party Ready to Buzz Again

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando joined land activists to march on Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 last year. KT Photo: Ven Rathavong

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Mam Sonando, owner of Beehive Radio and once a staunch supporter of the CNRP, now vows to resurrect his defunct “Beehive Democratic Society” political party.

Mr. Sonando formed the party in 1997, but dissolved it a year later after it failed to win any seats. He kept the name and used it for his newly-created radio station.

“My new party’s name keeps the same as the previous party in the election of 1998,” said Mr. Sonando, who will resign as president of Beehive Radio to run the new party. “We were known as the Beehive Democratic Society Party.”

Mr. Sonando told Khmer Times he will hold a party congress in September and then go to the Ministry of Interior to officially re-register his new party.

“I have the old party’s statute, but I will amend something [in the old statute] and then submit to ministry [for approval],” he said. 

Mr. Sonando says he previously was a strong supporter of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). But recently, he lost faith in the party’s ability to change the country. 

“Before, I supported CNRP but now CNRP is useless,” he said.  Referring to CNRP leaders, he said: “They cannot rescue themselves and the people.  So I have to get involved and contribute to help people.” 

He believes many CNRP supporters and citizens are dissatisfied, and do not feel that they truly are an opposition party. Some opposition members lost heart on seeing their party President, Sam Rainsy, celebrating Khmer New Year last week with his longtime political adversary, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Now, they’re involved in the dialogue, and there is no opposition party,” Mr. Sonando asserted. 

To those who claim his new party has no supporters and will only eat into the small CNRP voting bloc, Mr. Sonando responds: “I know that the CNRP will not win the next election. So I have to form my own party.” 

The new party will deflect some attention from negative press Mr. Sonando  received recently. Last month, he fired staff members of Beehive Radio after they asked for raises and less working hours.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith welcomed the new party, and said he was confident that the Beehive Democratic Society would not siphon votes from the CNRP.

“It is the right of the people to be involved in politics,” he said. “Cambodian people have the knowledge, and they follow the media about political issues and society. So we do not care or worry that our votes will be split.” 

Political analyst Dr. Sok Touch, meanwhile, said Mr. Sonando believes the CNRP has lost its connection to the population, and took the opportunity to form Beehive Democratic Society. 

“Mr. Sonando formed a party to absorb votes from the CNRP,” he said.

Dr. Touch predicted that many new political parties would be created in the run-up to the 2018 elections. The majority of new parties, he said, would affect the CNRP more than they would the CPP.

“The CNRP will worry that many small parties will be established,” he said. “But the CPP seems happy because the people have many choices.”

He said no one knows whether a revived Beehive Democratic Society would take votes from the CNRP. 

“We do not know what the platform of the party is, or what it will be a forum for,” he said.

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