CPP spokesman tells ‘critics’ to form party

Attendees of World Khmer Conference, including Ear Sophal, Preap Kol and Meas Nee, pose for a photograph in Melbourne on Sunday. Photo supplied
Attendees of World Khmer Conference, including Ear Sophal, Preap Kol and Meas Nee, pose for a photograph in Melbourne on Sunday. Photo supplied

CPP spokesman tells ‘critics’ to form party

Ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan urged government “critics” attending a conference in Australia this week to form their own political party and compete in the upcoming July elections.

The World Khmer Conference took place in Melbourne, Australia over three days, and played host to many prominent figures in Cambodia’s increasingly beleaguered civil society. Former opposition Deputy President Mu Sochua was also present, although she said she was there in a “personal capacity”, not as a political representative.

While Eysan did not name any individuals specifically, government mouthpiece Fresh News reported that he was referring to professor Ear Sophal, anti-corruption advocate Preap Kol and political analyst Meas Nee, among others, all of whom attended the conference.

Sochua’s party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was dissolved in November on widely condemned allegations of fomenting “revolution”. Since then, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has clamped down on dissent and increased its scrutiny of civil society, even as international criticism of the crackdown has mounted.

Eysan said in an interview on Monday that it was attendees’ “right” to participate in the conference, but said any discussions outside of Cambodia’s political framework are “useless”, despite the ruling party having quashed the prospect of talks with the former CNRP.

“They should join together to collect their wisdom and make it into good policy programs,” he continued, seemingly speaking sarcastically.

“They should form a political party to compete and defeat the CPP,” he added.

CPP Spokesman Sok Eysan speaks to the media outside the National Assembly in Phnom Penh in 2016.
CPP Spokesman Sok Eysan speaks to the media outside the National Assembly in Phnom Penh in 2016. Heng Chivoan

Sophal, Kol and Nee all denied having any interest in engaging in politics in Cambodia on Monday.

“I appreciate his encouragement to enter politics as a testament to my effectiveness as scholar,” said Sophal, who is a professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College in the US.

“But given that the July 2018 Elections will be neither free nor fair (they have not been since 1993), it would be like playing a chess game where all my pieces are pawns and all other side’s pieces are Queens, Rooks, Bishops, and Knights,” he continued in an email. “In other words, a fool’s errand.”

Prior to the conference, both Sophal and Kol wrote an email requesting to abstain from endorsing the group’s resolution. Nee said he too was not involved in the resolution.

As of press time, the resolution had not been finalised.

Kol said he does not see himself as a critic, but rather “as an expert and advocate for anti-corruption, good governance, transparency, integrity, democracy and rules of law”.

Speaking via email, he went on to say that he has no interest in “the current politics”.

“I do, however, believe that clean politics is a precondition to make a country less corrupt,” he added.

Nee said many topics outside of politics were discussed at the conference, including health care, education and development.

“We never wished to establish a political party. What we talked about here are social problems,” he said, adding that nobody “attacked” the government.

Nee said the government’s attempts to politicise civil society figures makes people “hesitate” to express themselves.

“This is not just affecting freedom of expression, but affecting our freedom to share our knowledge and experience to other people,” he explained.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,