The former Secretary-General of Funcinpec, Loy Sim Chheang, has launched a
blistering attack on Funcinpec leader and National Assembly president Prince
Ranariddh at a time when the party is trying to reunite splintered
Sim Chheang, the President of the New Society Party, said that
contrary to rumors flying around Phnom Penh, he has no intention of reconciling
his differences with Ranariddh. "I told the King already that I will not rejoin
He said the Prince did not obey the rule of law and cannot be
trusted as a leader.
He said today's Funcinpec does not follow the
original ideals of the party, which he thought included democracy and a respect
Sim Chheang said he cannot forgive the Prince's accusations that
he betrayed the party by staying in Cambodia during the 1997 coup.
other top Funcinpec leaders who fled Cambodia during the coup, Sim Chheang said
he had a responsibility to stay behind to protect the interests of the party's 2
million followers - even though his life was at great risk.
"I don't know
how [Ranariddh] can call me a traitor," said Sim Chheang. "If you are the son of
the King, can you just say whatever you want?"
Before the coup Ranariddh
used to accuse Funcinpec members of being "puppets" and "traitors," but when he
returned after the coup, he didn't use these words, said Sim
"Why? Because he has become a puppet himself?"
Chheang said the Prince runs the party as a dictatorship, saying "The power of
the party is in the hands of a leader who surrounds himself with
"Funcinpec members say sooner or later I will return, but I
will not," said Sim Chheang, adding he does not understand why Ung Huot, another
top Funcinpec leader accused by Ranariddh of betrayal, is willing to return to
Ung Huot, who replaced Ranariddh as First Prime Minister after
the coup, said he is prepared to dissolve his Reastr Niyum Party (RNP), and
bring the members of the RNP back into the Funcinpec fold. The majority of the
RNP are keen to join Funcinpec, Huot said, "but it has to be decided by a party
"We believe that [Ranariddh] will make the decision soon for
the interest of the party. And we know which direction he will go because he has
carte blanche from his steering committee," he said.
"It's a matter of
time, and I think he will make the right decision and we will be all back
again," said Huot.
He told the Post that informal talks about
reconciliation with Funcinpec began last September and have continued
Huot said Ranariddh asked him to approach Sim Cheang
about the possibility of rejoining Funcinpec. But while Sim Chheang said he knew
of this request, Ung Huot has not broached the subject with him.
insists Ranariddh now realizes the Funcinpec members who stayed in Cambodia
after the coup took whatever actions were necessary to save their lives and gave
the Funcinpec supporters remaining in Cambodia a voice in the
"I can speak for myself and a lot of my colleagues who stayed
behind in Cambodia. We were not betraying the party. We were not betraying the
Prince," said Huot, who took over the Prince's position of First Prime Minister
in the wake of the coup.
Sim Chheang said he takes any apologies made by
Ranariddh to the members he accused of treachery as seriously as he takes the
apologies of former Khmer Rouge leaders.
Nady Tan, Deputy President of
the RNP, said he expects Prince Ranariddh to release soon an official statement
inviting the RNP back to Funcinpec, and does not believe the move will create
problems within either party.
Huot acknowledges there are people on the
Funcinpec steering committee who do not support the reconciliation
"They spread rumors that [RNP] will go back and divide the party
again. This is foolish. If men like me return to Funcinpec, it's not going to be
destroyed. It's stupid to say that we will destroy Funcinpec," said
Sources in Funcinpec say some high-ranking party members fear Huot
and Sim Cheang will be given powerful positions as a reward for rejoining the
To these members Huot says: "Don't worry about it. We will only go
in to strengthen the party.
"I don't have any ambition for my personal
role - to be a minister or anything else. The rumor in the streets is that I
would be Minister of Education.
"A lot of people in the Ministry were
very happy to hear that because they want me back. They want to see me because I
did a good job in 1994.
"Nobody discussed it with me. Not Hun Sen nor
Prince Ranariddh, so I haven't heard officially."
Huot believes the CPP
is not concerned about a reconciliation between Funcinpec and the breakaway
"I met Hun Sen and I don't know whether he is telling the truth
, but he said he would be happy to see us together again. He knows my position
since the beginning and he feels sorry for me that Prince Ranariddh accused me
of being a traitor.
"[Hun Sen] even told the Prince that without [me],
Funcinpec would be in big trouble," said Huot.
A Funcinpec source said it
is not that Hun Sen feels goodwill for Funcinpec - the Prime Minister is simply
confident of his control and his ability to manipulate Funcinpec as he has done
in the past.
The source said former Funcinpec MPs Om Rasady and Ros
Chheang have already left the RNP and rejoined the party, but there is still
some opposition to overcome before Ung Hout can return.
people who split from Funcinpec wanted to return a long time ago, but because of
the people around the Prince [Funcinpec's steering committee] the reconciliation
has been delayed."
Most Funcinpec members and supporters want a
reconciliation between Sam Rainsy and Prince Ranariddh, he said, "But no one can
advise the Prince to stop abusing Sam Rainsy. And it is hard to convince Rainsy
that it is best to rejoin Funcinpec.
He said although Rainsy and
Ranariddh are on different tracks - both are stubborn and confident that their
parties hold the key to Cambodia's political future - "The hope is the separate
tracks will one day meet."
Prince Ranariddh did not answer a written
request for an interview.