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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MP buried as recriminations continue

MP buried as recriminations continue

T HE wife of Buddhist Liberal Democrat Party (BLDP) MP Meas Chan Leap hid her

husband's guns a month ago at his own urging. He asked her "not to let him die";

she was fearful he would carry out his threat of suicide.

Tajika Yoshiko,

54, only gave Chan Leap back his guns after he gave his word not to commit

suicide - a promise he broke when he shot himself through the head in the

offices of the National Assembly on August 9.

The Kandal MP was cremated

in a ceremony at Wat Langka in Phnom Penh on August 10.

Apparently Chan

Leap could no longer stand the bitterness between the Ieng Mouly and Son

Sann-led cliques as Cambodia's third-largest political party was tearing itself

apart.

Tajika told the Post of her husband sitting quietly and alone in

thought in his bedroom of their Tuol Kork home.

He wrote letter after

letter, screwing them up and throwing them away before beginning to write

another, she said.

"He refused to meet any guests but instead

concentrated on his writing," said his son, who did not want his name

published.

"He said to me not to let him die. I supposed he was joking

and did not care at all," said Tajika.

"He expressed many strange signals

that he had never shown before but eventually I began to suspect something [was

wrong]," she said

A month ago, Tajika felt uncomfortable with his

behavior and hid Chan Leap's guns from him. For a while, his behavior improved

and he asked for the guns back, promising not to do anything bad, she

said.

"He never broke his promise from the time we were married so I gave

him back his guns," she said.

"Since we were married he never took good

care of the family but during that month before he died he was very nice to us,"

she said.

Tajika said her family would not return to Japan because she

wanted to see whether her husband's devotion would have a good bearing on the

BLDP. She wanted to see if anyone used her husband's death to serve their own

interest.

His son said his father loved the nation more than he loved his

family.

He had never used his salary (either in Japan or Cambodia) to

feed his family, the son said, but instead devoted the money to the

BLDP.

Chan Leap's son remembered his father telling him: "Don't mind me.

I haven't looked after you well but you can look after yourself. We have to

consider the nation's interest. We were born in the Khmer nationality, we must

die for Khmer."

His wife said her husband had served Cambodia for 15

years, despite suffering a stroke that paralyzed half his body ten years

ago.

"Though he could not use his dead hand and leg, he still served his

country," she said.

Before he killed himself Chan Leap left five letters:

one for Ieng Mouly; another for both Mouly and Son Sann; one to National

Assembly chairman Chea Sim, vice-chairman Loy Sim Cheang, and both Prime

Ministers; one for his family and the other one for the public.

The

letter to Mouly talks about his disappointment at the "unjust" allegations that

he was among those who originally expelled Mouly from the party. In a postscript

he said he was worried about international concerns that Mouly was moving to

expel the Son Sann faction from Parliament.

The letter to both Mouly and

Son Sann appealed for BLDP's re-unification, asking both to begin serving the

poor. The letter said he scarified his life for re-unification, and if they did

not accept his request his spirit will not them live securely.

The open

letter said he was suffering heavily because his party did not reunite to serve

the country.

The fourth letter - written probably with a trembling hand,

according to his wife, who dismissed reports by Son Sann's group and some Khmer

media that it was fake - is severely critical of Son Sann.

It said that

scarcely had Son Sann arrived in Phnom Penh before he demanded his house back

and asked for the rent because the government had used it since 1979. In the

letter Chan Leap asked Son San to retire from politics because he had no new

ideas, and that 90 percent of BLDP's members had left Son Sann.

Chan Leap

also asked for $2,500 which he said Son Sann owed him since February last year,

and for reimbursement for Chan Leap's car that Son Sann had used.

The

letter ends: "[In the] next world, I wish I would not have such a boss as Son

Sann who usually takes advantages from his followers."

Tajika said the

references to money was just a reminder to Son Sann to repay because her family

had ran out of money.

"My husband never provided our family with money

so before he left us he must have thought of leaving us that money," she

said.

Chan Leap finally asked the government to arrange his funeral and

cremation.

Born in Phnom Penh on January 29, 1940, Chan Leap was 22 when

he won a scholarship to Japan, spending five years learning explosive

engineering and gaining a Master of Commerce degree.

He returned to

Cambodia and served in the army till 1974. In 1975 he fled to Japan where he

worked successfully for 16 years, during that time joining the KPLNF, raising

money and later becoming the KPLNF ambassador to Japan. He returned to Cambodia

in 1991.

Chan Leap's death has not resulted in party unity, but both

sides are making conciliatory noises.

Son Sann arrived back in Phnom Penh

from France on Aug 20 and told the Post he would invite all BLDP supporters to

his congress, planned for October.

He said he had long wanted

reconciliation, and not only because of Chan Leap's suicide appeal.

"I

want our people to live in peace. I do not consider anyone as my enemy. I agree

with Chan Leap's proposal," he said.

He said he would resign - if all

other BLDP office holders agreed to resign as well - and the congress would

elect a unanimous leader.

Son Sann said he did not want to comment on

specific points contained in Chan Leap's suicide notes. "I respect his spirit so

I do not want to talk of anything related to him, whatever faction he supported.

I want his spirit to be peaceful," he said.

Kampong Thom MP Pol Ham, a

Son Sann supporter, said he believed the congress would be possible because "the

government understands what is legal and what is illegal."

"If [the

government] does not allow us to hold the congress, it means they will be

restricting our freedom and interfering into our internal affairs," he

said.

About possible moves to expel the Son Sann MPs from Parliament, Ham

said: "Mouly is the illegal president and I am a legal MP, so how can an illegal

person expel a legal person?"

Mouly declined to give any comment about

the reconciliation saying his spokesman, Sieng Lapresse, could answer

it.

Lapresse said he could not give any comment because Chan Leap's last

letter seemed to condemn Son Sann more than it asked for party

re-unification.

He said reconciliation could be achieved if Son Sann

asked officially "and if it came from his heart, not because of Chan Leap's

proposal."

Sources say Mouly wanted to expel the six Parliamentarians

aligned with Son Sann, but lately has backed off and is looking at

reconciliation as a possibility.

"I think the reconciliation will be

possible if only Son Sann resigns and Mouly replaces him as president," one

source said.

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