The Cambodian Nationality Party was never expecting to pick up two seats in the National Assembly after the opposition CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court earlier this month. After all, it won no seats in the 2013 general election.
Phnom Penh resident Seng Sokheng, 44, is a doctor by trade.
A former supporter of the royalist Funcinpec party, he started work as a physician in 2000 and obtained a PhD in public health in 2006.
His foray into politics began when he founded the CNP in December 2010.
The party contested the 2013 election but failed to win any seats in parliament.
“I never thought we would receive parliamentary seats. We did not expect to get seats this way, but I am very happy because we are receiving them in line with the Law on Political Parties, as well as the constitution,” Mr Sokheng said.
“My dream was to be a doctor so that I could save the lives of as many people as possible.
“If I were still a doctor I could treat about 10,000 patients in 10 years, but as a politician, I can serve all people in the country.”
The president of the CNP is now a lawmaker and says he is committed to joining every plenary session at the National Assembly, particularly to show the international community that democracy in Cambodia is not dead, even though one opposition party was dissolved.
“The CPP now has two-thirds of seats, however the CNP will still give opinions on what is right and wrong in order to get the ruling CPP to consider our ideas,” Mr Sokheng said.
The Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP on November 16 in connection with treason charges levelled against its leader Kem Sokha.
Mr Sokheng said critics have lashed out at 44 new lawmakers drafted to replace former CNRP parliamentarians. However, he claimed that people do not understand the law that covers the redistribution of National Assembly seats when a party is dissolved.
“It is the right of the people to criticise and express what they dislike or like,” he said.
“But I would like to clarify that the seats we have received are legal and comply with the constitution.”
Mr Sokheng said the CNP will work to win support from people ahead of next year’s election by promoting economic development and investment at a grassroots level, improved health services, better public order, a crackdown on corruption and drugs, and increasing agricultural exports for farmers.
He is optimistic that the 2018 election could be a turning point for his party and hopes voters will back its presence in parliament for another five years.