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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CDC climbs into Rainsy scrap

CDC climbs into Rainsy scrap

ANOTHER player has publicly joined the verbal war of words against outspoken MP

Sam Rainsy - Cambodia's investment body, the Cambodian Development

Council.

The council issued an extraordinary and rambling condemnation

against Rainsy on Feb 2, faxing it to all concerned media.

The press

statement accuses Rainsy of leaking a confidential Royal Government contract to

the press.

It said: "... Mr Rainsy tries to manipulate the public opinion

and to blatantly encourage the leakage of confidential information to the

media."

The statement went on the extol the virtues of the "renaissance"

of Royal Air Cambodge - indicating it was the RAC contract that Rainsy

leaked.

The Phnom Penh Post was one to which the RAC document was

originally leaked - and it was not done by Rainsy.

One source close to

the CDC office said he regretted the press statement and was aware of concern

among media circles that Rainsy was not the "culprit."

The author of the

CDC statement is understood to have been secretary general Vichit

Ith.

Rainsy was quick to reply to the statement, that also accused him of

having formerly had an anti-Thai attitude, and that he "seems to campaign now

against established Malaysian investors."

"These are baseless and unjust

accusations against a Member of Parliament. I wish to clarify that I have never

opposed Thai or Malaysian investors," Rainsy said in a letter to National

Assembly Chairman Chea Sim dated on Feb 4.

Rainsy, in the letter,

requested the Royal Government to respond to his statement dated Jan 30, that

asserted the joint venture with Malaysian Helicopters Services to set up RAC

violated at least four articles of the constitution and "must be

annulled."

He added that the CDC further accused him of having caused

foreign investors to lose confidence in Cambodia and of stirring up confusion in

public opinion.

"I do not make judgments on Thais, Malaysians or indeed

any other nationality... my only desire is to protect Khmer interests and I

would like to request the Royal government to strive to find and choose

investors who know how to respect Khmer interests, laws and customs," he

wrote.

Rainsy added: "Through Samdech Chairman, I wish to request the

Royal Government to cease making personal accusations against me any more,

saying I desire this or that."

Rainsy asked Chea Sim to request the

government to explain five other contracts "so that the national Assembly can

closely examine them and further request that the Royal Government clarify the

contracts' legality... and the advantages... which these contracts will provide

to Cambodia."

The five companies are identified as: Leader Universal

Holdings, concerning electricity production; Samling Corporation, concerning

forestry exploitation; Muhibbah Masterton, concerning the construction of

Pochentong airport, Ariston, concerning the construction of a casino and other

infrastructure in Sihanoukville; and FACB, concerning the building of golf

courses, the transport system and certain other tourist projects.

"These

contracts are public contracts affecting national interest which the Royal

government can not hide under confidentiality... the Royal government should

provide detailed information concerning the commissions or tips which have been

received from the companies above."

"Please, Samdech Chairman, submit my

questions and suggestions to the Royal government," Rainsy said.

The CDC

has been under mounting pressure to free up the contracts for

scrutiny.

The council's key players are all now on an "Investment

Roadshow" overseas, attracting more investment above the $2 billion that the

council constantly touts as having been approved in just five

months.

Phnom Penh business sources say that only a fraction of that

money has actually arrived in the country.

The CDC statement accused

Rainsy of trying to create doubts in foreign investors' mind by doing his best

to provide a negative image of Cambodia and hitting at foreign

investors.

"If Mr. Sam Rainsy keeps his habits of hitting at foreign

investors, Cambodian people from rural areas and newly young graduated students

will hardly have the chance to get jobs with proper salaries and training in the

years to come," it said.

The CDC also complained that "a responsible MP,

with high regard towards democracy and integrity and who wishes to check the

constitutionality of RAC would have gone through the normal democratic

process."

One source close to CDC lamented that the plublic slagging

match deflected people from seeing the good things that the council had

achieved.

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