Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Krom warned not to join Rainsy’s new movement



Khmer Krom warned not to join Rainsy’s new movement

Kampuchea Krom activists protest outside the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh in 2014.
Kampuchea Krom activists protest outside the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh in 2014. Eli Meixler

Khmer Krom warned not to join Rainsy’s new movement

The head of a Khmer Krom advocacy association yesterday issued a statement urging his followers not to join ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s newly minted Cambodia National Rescue Movement, claiming it will provoke violence.

“Sam Rainsy’s movement is illegal and rebellious, provoking violence, which has left the country in turmoil in the past. Please consider, and don’t believe the inciting lies and betrayal of politicians,” reads the letter, signed by Khmer Kampuchea Krom Cultural Centre (KKKCC) Director Kim Van Cheng.

Rainsy, who was president of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party until he was forced to step down by controversial legal amendments, officially launched the “movement” from America this week, ostensibly as a vehicle to call for demonstrations in response to the government’s widely condemned crackdown on the CNRP.

Since the dissolution of the CNRP – Cambodia’s only viable political opposition – pro-government figures have repeatedly appealed to the party’s freshly disenfranchised base not to protest.

Despite being repeatedly accused of instigating violence, Rainsy has pledged to call only for nonviolent protests, although he has yet to formally do so.

In public speeches, Prime Minister Hun Sen frequently dissuades garment workers from protesting, while the country’s head monk – a former CPP member – has also told all monks to support the ruling party. Garment workers, monks and the Khmer Krom minority – ethnic Cambodians who often face persecution in what is now southern Vietnam – all participated in the demonstrations following the disputed 2013 elections, which were put down in early 2014 when Military Police opened fire on a crowd of unruly striking workers.

“I do not want the Khmer Krom people to spill their blood for Mr Rainsy’s illegal acts,” the KKKCC’s Van Cheng said in an interview yesterday, adding that Rainsy has a reputation for escaping prosecution by fleeing abroad, while his followers fight and face jail time.

But Son Chum Choun, a senior coordinator for the Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association, said individuals should decide their political alliances themselves, after careful consideration.

Chum Choun said he personally would support the new movement if it were legal, and if it “expels” ethnic Vietnamese. While Rainsy has controversially used anti-Vietnamese rhetoric in the past, there has been no indication thus far that this will feature in the movement.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,