Candlelight’s Kung Raiya Faces Complaint Over Money Handed to Candidates

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Former youth activist and twice-jailed university student Kung Raiya is looking to emulate his late father by winning an election in Kampong Cham’s Sdao commune. (Roun Ry/VOD)
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A ruling party representative in Kampong Cham is escalating a request to remove Candlelight Party candidate Kung Raiya and others from the upcoming ballot based on a complaint about Raiya distributing money to colleagues.

Raiya, known for his jailing in 2015 after making a call online for a “color revolution,” is standing as Candlelight’s commune-chief candidate in Kang Meas district’s Sdao commune.

On Wednesday, the commune election committee summoned Raiya over a complaint from CPP deputy commune chief Chin Davy about a Facebook video post in which Raiya distributed some money to each of the other commune candidates in his party. Committee documents variously said that Davy was requesting the removal of 11-15 candidates as well as fines.

Raiya was again called to appear on Thursday, and for Friday has been summoned to the provincial election committee, he told VOD. Davy is seeking the removal of all Candlelight candidates in the commune, he said. Sdao commune chief Lay Senghong, from the CPP, said he knew nothing about the complaint.

Raiya said he disagreed with the complaint, as it was not a matter of distributing money to supporters, but for party candidates to cover expenses.

“We will strive and struggle and will win the upcoming election, because our activities are not against the law. We just used our rights as stated in the law to find votes, find support from people to move forward to win commune council seats and become the head of the commune council,” he said.

Sam Kuntheamy, director of NGO the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Raiya’s actions did not appear problematic.

“If one distributes money to voters, that would be a way of buying their favor. This was given to one’s own officials or candidates. You don’t need to buy their favor because they’re already standing [for the party].”

National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea said if the two sides could not agree at the commune level, complaints could be elevated to the provincial and national committees.

Additional reporting by Ouch Sony

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