Dr. Lao Mong Hay Criticized that Mr. Hun Sen Breaks the Constitution by Violating the King’s Powers – Saturday, 26.9.2009

Posted on 27 September 2009. Filed under: Week 631 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 631

“A senior researcher of the Asian Human Rights Commission, based in Hong Kong, Dr. Lao Mong Hay, commented in an article via UPIAsia.com in late October last year, mentioning some points to claim that the Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, is abusing the Constitution, the supreme law of Cambodia.

“The comment was quoted and aired on Radio Free Asia yesterday [25 October 2009] as an example to describe how Prime Minister Hun Sen is violating the Constitution, the supreme law of Cambodia.

“To support this claim, Mr. Lao Mong Hay mentioned the Khmer-Siamese [Thai] border dispute at the Preah Vihear Temple, quoting a statement of Prime Minister Hun Sen on 14 October last year when he gave an ultimatum to Thailand, to withdraw the Siamese [Thai] troops by the next day, and ordered the Khmer troops to prepare for armed clash with the Siamese [Thai] troops. On 15 October 2008, Cambodian and Thai troops engaged in a brief battle, resulting in deaths and injuries on both sides. Hun’s action violated the Cambodian Constitution, according to which only the King of Cambodia, the supreme commander of the Cambodian armed forces, can make a declaration of war after both Houses of Parliament approve it. Hun Sen usurped the King’s power.

“With this, Dr. Lao Mong Hay explained, regarding an announcement of war by Prime Minister Hun Sen, that the Prime Minister does not have the right and the power to do so, but according to the Constitutions of Cambodia, only the King has power to declare war after there has been ab agreement by both the National Assembly and the Senate of the country.

“He pointed to Articles 7 and 24 in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of Cambodia which state that only if there is agreement from the National Assembly and from the Senate, the King has the rights to declare war, but not the Prime Minister.


For reference, we quote here the text of this article from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia:

Article 24:

The King shall serve as Chairman of the Supreme Council of National defense to be established by law.

The King shall declare war after approval of the Assembly and the Senate.

Radio Free Asia’s broadcast recounted that members of the Cambodia People’s Party in both the National Assembly and in the Senate had given different explanations about the Constitution, different from what parliamentarians from the opposition parties, the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, had said, as the Constitutional Council, dominated by a majority of the Cambodian People’s Party, always agrees with the [ruling] party or does not make any clarifications.

“Also other words used as background to show that the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Mr. Hun Sen, violated the Constitution were quoted.

“They refer to Article 80 of Chapter 7 of the Constitution, which states that parliamentarians have immunity and must not be punished for expressing their opinion fulfilling their duty.


Again, for reference, we quote here the text of this article from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia:

Article 80:

The deputies shall enjoy parliamentary immunity.
No assembly member shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed during the exercise of his (her) duties.
The accusation, arrest, or detention of an assembly member shall be made only with the permission of the National Assembly or by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly between sessions, except in case of flagrante delicto. In that case, the competent authority shall immediately report to the National Assembly or to the Standing Committee for decision.
The decision made by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly shall be submitted to the National Assembly at its next session for approval by a 2/3 majority vote of the assembly members.
In any case, detention or prosecution of a deputy shall be suspended by a 3/4 majority vote of the National Assembly members.

“However, in the meantime, a statement of Prime Minister Hun Sen was reported, warning those who had criticized the government and his performance.

“Also this intimidating statement was broadcasted, quoting Mr. Hun Sen as saying, ‘Do not insult the government calling it a dictatorial regime. Be careful. When you then face legal action, you will say that the freedom of expression is suppressed.’


As the statement under reference had been taken up in different ways in the press, we quote here three instances from past Mirrors.

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #255, 6.8.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warned He Would Take Legal Action against Those Who Call the Government a “Dictatorial Regime,” after He Won the Court Case against Ms. Mu Sochua

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #463, 7.8.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian and spokesperson] Mr. Yim Sovann Said that Mr. Hun Sen Creates a New Obstacle for the Freedom of Expression [Prime Minister Hun Sen recently warned to take legal action against those calling the government a dictatorial regime]

And finally an interesting clarification in detail:

Khmer Amatak, Vol.17, #635, 10.8.2009

  • On 6 July 2009, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that he will file an accusation with the court against anybody who calls the present regime, which is a ‘constitutional monarchy’ a ‘dictatorial regime.’ Mr. Hun Sen said that if ones call an individual or the Royal Government a dictator or a dictatorship, that is alright. The Prime Minister had previously said publicly that there had been accusation that he gathers power for himself alone, and he had agreed with it, because many fellow officials do not act according to their roles and just wait, until there is an order from the Prime Minister.

“And even members of the US parliament, experts in legal affairs, denounced publicly the leadership of Mr. Hun Sen on 10 September 2009, calling it dictatorial, walking towards the track of the Burmese junta that suppresses and restricts the freedom of expression and of opposing politicians, and also of its own citizens.

“It is Ms. Mu Sochua’s case that most clearly is noticed by national and international observers and the Khmer people in general, but also by diplomats, non-government organizations, and senior politicians of the European and the US parliaments, as restriction of the freedom of expression by Mr. Hun Sen’s rule in Cambodia.

“Ms. Mu Sochua, a parliamentarian from the Sam Rainsy Party, the biggest opposition party in Cambodia, becomes a target of psychological suppression politics of the Cambodian People’s Party and the government of Mr. Hun Sen. Mu Sochua was prosecuted by the Phnom Penh Municipal court, which is criticized to be a tool of the Cambodian People’s Party, because she dared to lodge a complaint to seek justice related to a speech by Mr. Hun Sen, in which she saw some words as insulting her.

“Also, Ms. Mu Sochua raised human rights violations in Cambodia and the way of ruling of Mr. Hun Sen’s government suppressing anti-government politicians psychologically during a meeting with members of the US congress, ‘US parliamentarians have the same position. They do not have doubts and do not need us to explain. They criticized that no Khmer parliamentarian should be suppressed by those who rule in Cambodia by trying to arrest and to restrict them.’

“The Asian Human Rights Commission issued a statement on 14 August 2009, CAMBODIA: Appointment of judges and prosecutors is unconstitutional, noticing that Mr. Hun Sen’s government violates many articles of the Constitution, as there are especially problems occurring in the organization of the court system. Here, examples of the violation of the power of the King’s rights occur by the Cambodian government, with reference to the Articles 14, 51, 128, 134, 135, and 150 of the Constitution. Article 128 in Chapter 11 of the Constitution of Cambodia states that the court’s power is independent; however, it is seen that courts are under the power and political pressure of rulers which is noticed as violating the Constitution by the rulers in Cambodia.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #496, 26.9.2009

And one more final note:

For reference to the source quoted, two paragraphs of the Asian Human Rights Commission statement of 14 August 2009, distributed by e-mail, are reproduced here:

  • The AHRC has further noticed that the appointment of judges and prosecutors, as shown in the king’s successive appointment decrees, has not respected the principle of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary as enshrined the country’s Constitutions (Arts 51 and 128). In these appointments, the Minister of Justice, a cabinet member and also a member of the SCM, has made nomination proposals, received the approval of the SCM and submitted them to the king for signing. For some appointments, the SCM has been bypassed altogether and the proposals directly submitted to the king for signature.
  • This practice contravenes Art 134 of the country’s Constitution which says, among other things, that “The Supreme Council of the Magistracy shall make proposals to the King on the appointment of judges and prosecutors to all courts.” It should be declared unconstitutional when, according Art. 150 of the same Constitution, “Laws and decisions by the State institutions shall have to be in strict conformity with the Constitution.”

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 26 September 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #295, 26.9.2009

  • Official [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak]: Cambodia Spends about US$6 Million Annually on Prisoners’ Food

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2056, 26.9.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua Dodged Journalists after Getting Down from the Plane [returning from a visit to the United States of America]; The Appeal Court Summoned Her to Appear on 2 October 2009 [over her appeal against the rejection by the Municipal Court of her complaint against Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • The US Embassy Will Organize a Conference about Energy Development in the Greater Mekong Sub Region [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #496, 26.9.2009

  • Dr. Lao Mong Hay Criticized that Mr. Hun Sen Breaks the Constitution by Violating the King’s Powers
  • [The president of the Supreme Court] Dith Munty Told Judges to Be Careful in Releasing Suspects [after there had been criticism that there are irregularities countrywide over releases of accused or of suspects]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6763, 26-27.9.2009

  • Thai Deputy Prime Minister [Suthep Thaugsuban]: Maritime Overlapping Zones [of Cambodian and Thailand] Should Be Jointly Developed
  • There Are Nearly 20,000 Convicts in Prisons Countrywide
  • From 2006 to September 2009, 8,689 Teenage Gangsters Have Been Intercepted

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5005, 26.9.2009

  • Radio Free Asia Dismissed Four Reporters [claiming to be a reform, but it is said to be the result of conflicts at the headquarters in Washington]
  • Cambodia Will Create a Law to Control Juvenile Gangs [according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak]
  • The National Election Committee Announced to Check and Register the Electoral Name Lists Annually [which will happen from 1 to 20 October 2009]
  • Three Persons Were Imprisoned [from 2 to 5 years] for Selling Children for Prostitution [Phnom Penh]
  • A Big Bank of China [the Bank of China – 中国银行] Plans to Open a Branch in Phnom Penh
  • There Have Been More Than 6,000 Drug Abusers in Cambodia [according the General Secretariat of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, but the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime claims that there are up to 46,000 drug abusers]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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2 Responses to “Dr. Lao Mong Hay Criticized that Mr. Hun Sen Breaks the Constitution by Violating the King’s Powers – Saturday, 26.9.2009”

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The question is whether the order to defend Cambodian territory is tantamount to a declaration of war.

Your question is valid – you are not the only person who asked this. But in our effort to “mirror” a wide range of content in the Khmer press, we thought it is useful to reflect even such a – surely contested – opinion.

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