RIN Kanha was set to be a Cambodia National Rescue Party candidate for Ratanakkiri province in the upcoming national election.
But all that changed yesterday when he and five of his fellow members defected to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, claiming they believed it had a better vision for the country’s future and more chance of running it effectively.
“These inexperienced [CNRP] candidates do not have the credentials,” Kanha said at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Kanha added that the CNRP’s political platform was weak and the party did not have the capacity to lead the country. Furthermore, he said, since the merger of the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, the opposition had failed to establish a clear vision.
“I joined [the CPP] by my own free will,” he said, adding he simply believed it was the better party and expediency had not played a part in his decision.
The 32-year-old has been actively involved in opposition politics since 2002.
Less than two weeks ago, he made headlines when complaining that commune authorities and Vietnamese agro-concessionaire Hoang Anh Lumphat were giving “election” gifts to hundreds of families in the province.
“Commune authorities wore hats with a CPP logo to get support for votes,” Kanha said at the time.
Defections to the ruling party are common at this stage of a Cambodian election, and CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann seemed to be taking the latest ones in stride yesterday, saying he cared little about them.
“There is nothing interesting about this. It is the same as always – it’s a trick carried out by the Cambodian People’s Party,” Sovann said. Chum Kosal, a high-level CPP official and adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, dismissed suggestions that his party had paid the members to defect.
“Whenever anyone from the opposition joins the Cambodian People’s Party, it is the opposition party’s habit to accuse us of orchestrating it,” he said.