On his official Facebook page on Thursday, former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) “acting president” Sam Rainsy outlined seven points as to why the 118 banned former party officials should not seek a return of their political rights.
However, Rainsy was blasted on Sunday by a former party comrade who said he was merely acting in his own “self-interests”, while a political analyst said Rainsy always does something that “goes against the realities in Cambodia”.
Among his seven points, Rainsy claimed that the Supreme Court had deprived the 118 of their political rights under orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen, and it was therefore unjust for it to dissolve the CNRP.
As such, he claimed that seeking the return of political rights is akin to accepting that “the deprivation of [their] rights was legal and correct”.
He also claimed: “If we ask for political rights back from Hun Sen, it also means we accept that the treason charge against Kem Sokha was correct, and we as his colleagues are also ‘treasonous persons’ like Kem Sokha.”
CNRP officials who sought the return of their political rights, Rainsy claimed, would be “cheated by Hun Sen or by his threat” and “were taking part in killing the CNRP and destroying democracy” under the current government.
On Facebook page, Rainsy claimed there would be a protest on January 19 in US capital Washington, DC, in front of Capitol Hill and the White House to demand the US and international community put pressure on Hun Sen.
“I would like to appeal to all the 118 to not request for rights from Hun Sen in order to be able to [participate in] politics because each of you requesting Hun Sen for this [right] is not a real solution for the rebirth of democracy in Cambodia,” he claimed.
However, responding to him on Friday, former Sam Rainsy Party acting president and top CNRP adviser Kong Korm wrote on Facebook that Rainsy issuing his seven points “was putting Cambodia as a state without laws for his own self-interests and [makes] all banned officials carry out activities arbitrarily and in an anarchic manner”.
Korm pointed out that Kem Sokha was charged for alleged treason and that the CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court. He said Rainsy, who since before the CNRP was dissolved was appointed “acting president” of the “outlawed” CNRP.
“Therefore, activists and those who support Rainsy [who has no role and rights] won’t escape the attention of the authorities enforcing the law,” Korm said adding that the international community would not support Rainsy.
Korm could not be reached on Sunday for further comment. But his son, Kong Bora, reiterated on Sunday that Rainsy’s claims were only for his own benefit.
“I am on the side of the Cambodian citizens who went to cast vote at the recent national elections. What he [Rainsy] claimed was for his personal benefit,” Bora stressed, declining further comment.
Meanwhile, the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute of Cambodia director-general Kin Phea said Rainsy feared being alone if the 118 sought the return of their political rights.
“When the 118 go back to politics, it will make Sam Rainsy lonely as he cannot return to Cambodia. He is not brave enough to return because he is involved in many court cases,” he said.
Phea said Rainsy’s seven-point statement was issued merely to warn and threaten the 118 officials to not leave him isolated.
Secondly, he pointed out that the amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties would restore the rights of not just the 118 affected CNRP officials, but be applied across the board to all political parties.
“Thirdly, Rainsy always does something that goes against the realities in Cambodia just to present himself as the opponent of the Cambodian People’s Party and Hun Sen. This is his political character. And he always ensures he benefits from it.
“If the 118 keep staying out of politics and have no political rights, then this only benefits Rainsy as it helps him to give the international community the impression that political freedom in Cambodia is restricted. This is what he wants,” Phea said.
He further pointed out that if the 118 followed Rainsy’s call, they would face the dilemma of either being unable to be involved in politics or following Rainsy and be exiled from the Kingdom.
“What does it mean when politicians cannot be involved in politics? They are like fighters outside the arena or fighting cocks whose spurs are just shields,” he said.