The newly legal Khmer Power Party is delaying the construction of its headquarters, instead using the money to build houses near the Vietnamese border, its leader said yesterday.
Sourn Serey Ratha, who returned from self-imposed exile last month after being pardoned of widely decried convictions related to his political activities, said he decided to postpone the construction of the party’s headquarters because the “priority for now is to build houses for the poor Khmer people who struggle to live at [the] border line.”
Serey Ratha said that the nationalist KPP was aiming to build 100 houses in border areas he claims are currently populated by “illegal Vietnamese” migrants.
He added that the project would begin in Kandal province’s Pak Nam village, where he said very few Cambodian families currently live, and insisted that it was not only targeting KPP supporters but all people living in border areas.
Over the past year, border tensions between Cambodia and Vietnam have been inflamed, with both sides claiming ownership of long-disputed land.
Serey Ratha said houses will only be constructed on Cambodian land, but added that the KPP would make the disputes central to its policy.
“So far, there are only politicians and political parties that make a business on the border issue but . . . disregard the livelihood of the Khmer people” living there, he said.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free & Fair Elections in Cambodia, said the planned construction of the $2,000 houses, which will all bear the KPP’s logo, was nothing unusual in Cambodian politics.
“They [politicians] do this a lot. The ruling party always builds schools and housing.”