‘Rebel’ Sochua ‘chased out of the European Parliament’

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CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun and Former CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua. Hong Menea

Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Mu Sochua said on Thursday that she was “chased” out of the European Parliament in Brussels last week by government delegate Chheang Vun, who admitted expelling a “rebel” who “acts foolishly” from a meeting.

Vun, who is a Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) legislator and member of the National Assembly, said on Thursday that he had defended Cambodia’s “legitimacy” by attending the 10th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting in Belgium.

There, he said, he had “expelled” Sochua, with the former CNRP deputy director expressing “disappointment” at his action.

The five-person Cambodian delegation consisting of two members of the National Assembly and three senators attended the 10th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting in Belgium on September 27-28. It mainly focused on environmental challenges facing Asia and Europe.

The altercation occurred when Sochua turned up at the meeting.

She said on Facebook Live on Thursday in the EU Parliament that she was “disappointed” after the Cambodian government delegation, including Vun, used inappropriate language and behaviour towards her after she had tried to show them courtesy.

“I am deeply disappointed because I greeted the delegation of Cambodia and His Excellency Chheang Vun as we are all Cambodians. I am very disappointed that Chheang Vun did not greet me."

“He asked me what right I had to enter the European Parliament as they were the legitimate representatives of Cambodia,” she said.

Sochua said she went to the European Parliament as the representative of nearly half the Kingdom’s population who had voted for the CNRP at the 2017 commune elections, but Vun chased her out.

“He said: ‘I do not recognise Mu Sochua, so go away.’ I was very disappointed with what he said, but I am proud to have entered the European Parliament. Our presence represents half the nation,” she said.

Contacted by The Post on Thursday, Vun admitted that he chased Sochua out of the meeting. He said he considered his delegation as the only official representatives of Cambodia, after being invited to attend, and so it was his right.

“She even wanted to sit at Cambodia’s seat. When I asked her what is she doing there, she replied that she had come to greet me. I said: ‘I do not accept that; there is only one representative of Cambodia’s parliament here."

“Is she a lawmaker? She is a rebel. What right does she have to attend? She has no right and acts foolishly and crazily like this. We cannot accept these people,” he said.

Sochua said she had intended to raise the topics of democracy, freedom and freedom of expression in the meeting, and that in a democratic country, everyone has the right to enter parliament.

“I came as the representative of half the Kingdom’s population to talk about democracy, freedom, and freedom of expression in the country. The EU is a democratic place . . .  justice will prevail,” she said.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly via Facebook issued a video from the Cambodian delegation.

In it, Vun says the Cambodian delegation was welcomed by the European Parliament and he regarded the visit as “a success of Cambodia” and of all Cambodians.

“I would like to confirm again to the countries of the world [that] this Asia-European Parliament meeting confirms that Cambodia is on the right path."

“We are proud that Cambodia is not among the 38 countries the UN considers to have violated human rights,” he says.

Vun said when the European Parliament invited Cambodia to attend the meeting, it meant it recognised the Kingdom’s new government.

“[The European Parliament] formally invited Cambodia’s government. The IPU [Inter-Parliamentary Union] and the European Parliament invited us because they recognise us."

“If they invited us, how can another delegation come and bother us,” he asked.

The EU Embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to a request for comment from The Post on Thursday.