Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thy Sovantha: ‘We cannot know that the CNRP are better. We can only hope.’

Thy Sovantha: ‘We cannot know that the CNRP are better. We can only hope.’

Thy Sovantha gives special interview with Lift in the Post office.
Thy Sovantha gives special interview with Lift in the Post office. HONG RAKSMEY

Thy Sovantha: ‘We cannot know that the CNRP are better. We can only hope.’

Q: Sovantha, you became famous as CNRP activist. Why do you think Sam Rainsy or Kem Sokha would be better leaders of Cambodia than Hun Sen?
A: Hun Sen has been in power for 34 years. It is time to change the leader and see who is better for the development of the country.

Q: What exactly is the difference between the two parties except for the leaders?
A: Since the CPP are in power many trees are gone from Cambodia and many Vietnamese came to live in our country.

Q: How do you feel about many Vietnamese people are discriminated against in Cambodia these days?
A: Not all Vietnamese people are bad except for the ones who took our land. The latter many Cambodian people call Yuon.

Q: How did you get to join the CNRP rallies? Do you have friends in the CNRP?
A: No, I didn’t know anyone. I first got in touch with the CNRP youth because like them I volunteered at the NEC. First they thought that I was a spy because they didn’t understand why I started to hang out with them.

Q: Why did people in the CNRP youth say you were a spy?
A: Several people said that because I always took many pictures with my iPad to post them on Facebook. But then I told them how I felt about CNRP and they let me participate.

Q: But you are no CNRP member and do your own charity and awareness projects. What to you want to achieve?
A: I want to raise money for community service. First I spread awareness of a project over social media. If people want to support a community service project they give me the money and then I take the money and help the needy; people whose houses were destroyed in the flooding for example. This has nothing to do with the CNRP. But I tell my supporters the reasons why the needy are needy and very often it is because of what the current leadership allowed to happen – like the Boung Kak evictions. With my charities however I want to show our neighbor countries Thailand and Vietnam that Khmer people are able to love each other and Khmer people help Khmer people.

Q: ‘Khmer people help Khmer’ people seems to be your motto. Can you elaborate that?
A: We have CNRP and CPP supporters in Cambodia. But it is not good when they are fighting because we are Khmer all the same and there are good people in both parties. I want everybody to be open about whom they support and then they can discuss. We need to choose a leader and when we chose a leader the people who did not vote for that leader have to accept the majority’s decision. But I think the last elections were not fair and they have to be done again.

Q: If you believe that all Khmer people should be more tolerant of each other’s political opinions and there are good people in CPP and CNRP – why don’t you stay neutral and side with the CNRP instead?
A: The media attention on TV and radio is still mostly on the CPP as well as all the power in the country and this is not fair. So I support the CNRP in social media to make their chance fairer to become the leaders of the country.

Q: In some pictures on your Facebook profile one can see you driving a LEXUS 330. At the same time you raise a lot of money from people (so far $ 50.000 according to Sovantha)…Do people sometimes ask you if all the money you raise goes to charity?
A: Yes, some people said I used the money from the donations to buy myself a LEXUS. But I have had this car for two years already and I only started raising money seven months ago. So how does that work?

Q: What do your parents do for a living?
A: They import fabrics from China and sell them.

Q: For a while you were part of I love Cambodia Hot News. How come you are not anymore?
A: There was a lot of confusion. In the beginning I was posting a lot about the election together with Phe Sovannarith. He was acting as a CNRP supporter and made many people believe in him but then he turned to the CPP and many people got angry with him. First he posted three videos in that he burned pictures of Jul Sovann (Police chief) and Hun Sen and a Thai flag and I supported him in that. I thought it is good if young people saw that braveness. But then Sovannarith posted negative comments about Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy…

Q. We also heard rumors that you were a couple because you went to a workshop in Singapore together?
A. We have never been a couple and went to Singapore in a group of 30 people but attended the workshop at different times. In fact, we did not meet each other over there. I am not in a relationship with him at all. We only communicated online about the website.

Q: Now Sovannarith is running with the CPP?
A: I don’t know that. All I can say is that I support all youth who do something good for our country no matter if they are CPP or CNRP. Not all CPP members are bad.

Q: But because you initially supported Phe Sovannarith you had to leave the I love Cambodia Hotnews?
A: No, I left because I wanted to start my own news site on Facebook. It is better for the formation of public opinion to have many channels.

Q: Do you a get a lot of fan mail?
A: Yes, and also a lot of hate mail when people say very insulting things to me on Facebook. But I never care and answer them politely and with smileys. They don’t know better and I try to explain them why I support the CNRP.

Q: Last week, supposedly a passport authority leaked a personal document of yours onto Facebook which among other highly personal things, reveals where you live. What are you going to do about that?
A: First of all, that this happened to scare and threaten me only shows that this current government is by far too powerful and in power for too long. This is antiquated style from 30 or 40 years ago. I am not afraid though and I want to know exactly who did this and that this person is brought to justice. I am working on a complaint and also plan to seek help from an NGO.

Q: Would the situation in Cambodia be better if the CNRP was in power?
A: If they were in power I would also be concerned about what they do. We cannot know that they would be better. We can only hope. We can only judge them by their actions.

Q: You are very young and still go to school. How come you already have such developed political opinions?
A: Because of my parents. Sometimes they would meet with friends at our house, close the doors and then also talk critically of Hun Sen and politics in Cambodia. I was secretly listening to them. Then I started to read books on Cambodian history and politics, and different political leaders of other countries.

Q: Who is your favorite political leader?
A: I like Abraham Lincoln because he came from a poor family and worked his way up. My family is mostly about business and don’t want to involve in politics. But I thought I could have a chance to be like Abraham Lincoln. He shows that we can do everything from ourselves.

Q: Are you afraid that your political activity could harm your parents’ business activity?
A: The fact that Hun Sen is in power means that their business is already affected in a bad way as well as everybody else in the country. This is why I support the opposition.

Q: You have become very popular over the last months. Do many people try to be your friends?
A: Everybody is my friend and welcome to support me. I love them all because I want to be fair. But I don’t have close friends.

Q: Do you sometimes wish to have close friends – when you are sad for example?
A: No, I enjoy my life as it is. All the people on Facebook are my friends. When I am sad then I can turn to my teacher or my father. They act as my close friends then.

Q: Have you always kept people of your age on relative distance?
A: Before I moved to Phnom Penh from Kampong Cham at nine years old I had close friends. When my family arrived in Phnom Penh we were very poor compared to the Phnom Penh people so the children in my new school never talked to me. But I was not angry at them and I stayed quiet – and even when my family became successful I enjoyed being quiet and on my own. This way I always felt fair and free.


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