S AM Rainsy has publicly ruled out starting a new political party - largely
because he fears dangerous repercussions.
The former MP, expelled from
the National Assembly in June in disputed legal circumstances, said last week he
would tone down his political activities and concentrate on "social
He said he feared provoking intimidation or violence against he or
his supporters if he took "too strong" a political line.
"First of all, I
have to be able to stay in Cambodia," he said, speaking on a brief return trip
to Cambodia, his first since going abroad after his expulsion.
it is essential for me to be able to live in the country and work with people in
the social field [in a way] that people who work with me don't face any
Referring to his private bodyguards - who were detained and
allegedly beaten by soldiers last month - he said: "I don't want those people to
be harassed, to be jailed, to be beaten, to be tortured."
"It is not only
my bodyguards but people who would support me if I formed a political
"Those who came to ask for membership cards, those who gave their
houses to open [party] offices in the provinces, I think they would face a lot
of stress and terrible problems."
There was no need to establish a new
party, he said, when the next elections were three years away.
can start to build a network. You don't need to build a political party, but a
network of people who share the same ideas.
"I have been advised not to
go ahead too fast and I agreed."
But Rainsy warned that further National
Assembly expulsions - such as that of Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP)
MPs whose seats are in jeopardy - would inevitably produce an opposition
"If the top leaders of this country push for the expulsion of
[BLDP's] Son Soubert, Kem Sokha, Pol Ham, Son Sann, I think there will be a de
facto alliance because many people will have no other way to do
"The government must think about that. I know for sure they
would not like an alliance to be created between BLDP, a faction of Funcinpec,
Molinaka, smaller political parties and myself."
He suggested the
government was more afraid of a "peaceful, democratic, liberal, legal"
opposition movement than of the Khmer Rouge.
BLDP MP Son Soubert, whose
father Son Sann heads one of two factions which have split the party, has
previously said he could "of course" work with Rainsy.
Rainsy said "I
haven't decided anything" in the long-term, but for now his priority was to help
alleviate the problems of Khmers, such as food and water shortages.
you help dig canals and wells... nobody can say anything. All this work is not
As for his reinstatement to the Funcinpec party - which
party secretary Prince Norodom Sirivudh has publicly pledged to try to achieve -
Rainsy said that was "not my main concern now".
"Prince Sirivudh told me
I should keep quiet, that he will arrange that I can be reintegrated into
Funcinpec... I just say 'OK' to Prince Sirivudh, but I am not really
Rainsy said he had little doubt the government did not want him
While overseas, he had received many telephone calls, some
anonymous and others from people claiming to be friends, suggesting he would be
arrested or harmed if he returned to Cambodia.
He said even his mother in
France was approached by people claiming to be motivated by concern for her
"She is afraid. She is 80-years-old. She says 'Oh, let
me die before you go back to Cambodia, I don't want to see you die before
Rainsy left Cambodia again last week, for trips to the United
States and Europe which he said had been scheduled long in advance.
had previously visited France, Japan, Switzerland, England and Belgium, to meet
His aims abroad, he said, were to publicize the political
situation in Cambodia and urge action to prevent more expulsions of
Rainsy was pleased with the number of foreign parliamentarians, and
independent organizations, who had publicly opposed his expulsion.
diplomatic about the level of support from foreign governments, saying: "I
understand that governments cannot intervene openly and I know even though many
governments have not said anything officially, they have acted discreetly [to
raise their concerns]."