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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy weighs in on party slogan dispute

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Former CNRP President Sam Rainsy speaks to the press at an event held in 2015 in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Rainsy weighs in on party slogan dispute

Sam Rainsy might have resigned as opposition president, but that hasn’t stopped the exiled politician from stirring up the CPP over their sensitivity to the CNRP’s new slogan by suggesting alternative catchphrases that appear more likely to rile than mollify.

Since it was announced last month, the Cambodia National Rescue Party slogan, which tells voters to replace commune chiefs who “serve the party” with those who “serve the people”, has drawn the ire of the Cambodian People’s Party, which says it amounts to incitement and has threatened legal action.

The CNRP, headed now by Kem Sokha, has said it has no plans to change the rally cry, noting it doesn’t even explicitly refer to a particular party.

But Rainsy, who resigned from the CNRP last month to prevent his criminal convictions, widely considered politically motivated, from being used against the opposition under controversial new laws, on Saturday took to Facebook to pitch three alternatives should the opposition be forced to change.

The three phrases are: “replace darkness with sunlight”; “replace nepotism, cronyism and corruption-based appointments with meritocracy”; and “replace kleptocracy with democracy”.

“[The suggestions are] in case we have to give up the one with reference to commune chiefs. It is also to show, by comparison, that forcing us to give up that one would be ridiculous,” Rainsy said yesterday, via email from France, where he is based.

“I say ‘we’ and ‘us’ because I continue to cherish the CNRP’s ideals in my heart, I want to help them out and to see them doing well.”

Reached yesterday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said though Rainsy’s suggestions were provocative, the ruling party was “not interested” in his slogans as he had exited politics.

Eysan added that the decision on whether to proceed with legal action against the CNRP had been handed to the Interior Ministry to assess.

He would not elaborate on which law the opposition’s slogan had violated, only saying “any point that affects the dignity of the Cambodian People’s Party and Royal Government we will take into account [in deciding upon legal action].”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak was unreachable yesterday.

CNRP deputy president Eng Chhay Eang said the party would consider using the slogans suggested by its former president.

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