Legistation should be amended to prohibit elected officials from taking office if they hold dual citizenship, according to senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap.
Yeap on Monday said that the office of prime minister should be reserved exclusively for Cambodian nationals, but yesterday expanded the call to include all elected lawmakers.
“For the seat of the prime minister and for lawmakers, they should have only Cambodian citizenship in order to ensure their loyalty,” he said.
Yeap admitted that some CPP elected officials hold dual citizenship, but said he was unaware of the exact number.
“I am not sure how many CPP officials hold dual citizenship, but I know it is not many.”
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday hit back at Yeap’s comments, saying that a more pressing issue the CPP should look at was illegal immigration.
Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, said that the granting of economic land concessions to “foreigners” and the flow of immigrants from abroad should be a higher priority.
“I think the CPP should pay attention to illegal immigrants … and human rights abuses,” he said. “Foreigners come here to control the land, [the government gives] 99-year land concessions to the foreigners. This is the real issue.”
Sok Sam Oeun of the Cambodian Defenders Project pointed to the apparent hypocrisy of a senior CPP official making such a statement, when elected CPP representatives hold foreign passports. “If they pass this law, it’s against the unity of all Khmer people. What about the former prime minister exiled in another country? Do they commit a crime?” he asked.
“I think many CPP [officials hold dual citizenship]. Chheang Vun is also from abroad. He holds two nationalities. I think [Minister of Commerce] Sun Chantol [is] also from abroad.”
Sovann said that the CNRP would not pay much attention to the statement made by Yeap.
“[Our goal] is not about dual citizenship, it’s about fighting corruption. We need to find a way to peacefully resolve the deadlock,” he said.”
Sam Oeun said: “If they want to propose this, I think they should also propose the prime minister only has two terms.”
Dual citizenship to go before National Assembly
THE National Assembly will soon be asked to debate the banning of dual citizenships
for politicians, according to several members of parliament.
The controversial call has been a key issue pitting the Govern-ment’s coalition partners
against each other. The Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP) is driving the change; while
Funcinpec – which has many of its MPs enjoying dual citizenship – has fought against
Vann Vuth, a CPP MP who sits on the Commission of Interior, National Defense and
Investigation, said that the provision banning dual citizenship was proposed by the
commission in April.
Commission members denied that they had voted to insert the provision into the draft
law. But they did say that it had been written out on a separate piece of paper and
distributed to all MPs for discussion in a full session of the Assembly sometime
in the near future.
Por Bun Sreu, a Funcinpec MP and the commission’s deputy chairman, expressed his
opposition to amending the draft law – which does not at present contain any ban
on dual citizenship.
“The cabinet approved the bill and we have no right to change it. I stand on
the draft of the Royal Government and I can not do more than this,” he said.
The commission is made up of four CPP and four Funcinpec members, and one from the
BLDP. It was due to meet again the day after the Post went to press.
On his return from abroad May 13, Funcinpec leader Prince Ranariddh – who holds both
French and Cambodian citizenships – said that he would not alter his position toward
the government’s draft.
In a speech last month, CPP leader Hun Sen challenged holders of two passports to
relinquish one if they were real patriots.
“We must dare to take responsibility, to live and die with the people. In a
position as a Khmer minister or parliamentarian, holding American passport… is
down-grading for the nation,” Hun Sen said on April 27.
However, Bun Sreu argued that being a patriot did not depend on one or two nationalities,
but on an individual’s conscience.
When asked if he objected to dual citizenship ban, he replied: “It is very comfortable
to be an MP here. Where can I run to? Do you think it is easy to live in another
He said that he already bought a piece of land in Kompong Speu to make his own grave.
Funcinpec’s Ahmad Yahya, who is also a US citizen, considered quitting politics to
do humanitarian work if, after its adoption, the nationality law goes into effect
immediately with the new clause.
CPP’s MP Vann Vuth said: “I think one nationality is better because dual nationality
reflects [an] unclear political position. People will look at that in the election