The government’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit yesterday posted on its website a salacious and possibly slanderous interview with Keo Sophannary – the woman purporting to be the estranged mistress of opposition leader Kem Sokha.
In an audio clip of the interview, Sophannary can be heard holding forth on topics that run the gamut from sexual gossip to the overtly political.
The audio was recorded during a sitdown with Sathya Rak, a presenter for Bayon Television – a station run by the daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Over the course of the conversation, Sophannary went through the chronology of her alleged affair with Sokha – the existence of which the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has repeatedly and forcefully denied.
Detailing purported sexual encounters, she went as far as discussing the former Human Rights Party leader’s sexual relationship with his wife, while also claiming that Sokha had given her money for, among other things, a small shoe store she wanted to open.
Sophannary concluded the interview with a highly specific, policy-based admonishment to voters.
“I would like to appeal to [voters], don’t believe the cruel Kem Sokha – he cannot support his children and wife. Don’t believe it when he promises to pay $150 as a salary per month,” she said, referring to the CNRP’s proposed minimum wage for civil servants.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann again denied the veracity of the claims yesterday, adding that he did “not pay attention to” Sop-hannary’s claims anymore.
“All the things related to her, or to Chum Mey, are fabricated by politicians,” he added.
By way of evidence, Sovann said that television crews had never attended CNRP meetings in the past, but that on the day Sophannary appeared there had been a TV van and ambulance waiting.
“This is fabricated,” he re-iterated. “They make a movie.
It’s not the real story – it is a movie.”
The PQRU is technically a government agency but has in recent months begun publishing propaganda for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, such as an audio mash-up of Sokha and fellow opposition leader Sam Rainsy insulting each other before their parties merged.
Independent political analyst Chea Vannath said yesterday that the PQRU’s involvement in posting the video was inappropriate and unprofessional for a government agency.
“As the government, it is not supposed to go into any partisanship, to support or [go] against any political party,” she said. “The administration is supposed to be neutral and independent.”
Then, speaking only as “a concerned citizen”, Vannath went on to express disappointment at the current political situation.
“As a citizen of Cambodia, it is too much for me to handle,” she said, noting that “the administration of a democratic country [is] supposed to be spending time paying attention to the social, political, economic [issues] of the country . . . rather than to go into any extra soap opera”.
“For me, it’s too trivial,” she concluded. “I don’t want to waste my time.”
Spokesmen for the government and PQRU declined to comment on the interview yesterday.