Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has called on migrant workers in Thailand to take time off work and return to the Kingdom on November 9 to welcome him.
Rainsy made the appeal during an interview with Voice of America (VOA) on Tuesday. He said his network in Cambodia would inform people of where to gather on his return.
“Brothers and sisters in Thailand should be ready too. A huge number of people, millions of people in Thailand, can allocate time to take leave and we can be in Cambodia together on November 9,” he said.
On Monday, Rainsy spoke to Cambodians in Australia of the significance of him choosing November 9 for his return.
He said it was the date of independence from French rule in 1953, and that his return on that date is also aimed at taking back Cambodian independence – something he claimed Prime Minister Hun Sen had lost.
The date also marked the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989, giving freedom to East Germans from Soviet control, he said.
“I believe our mission to take back Cambodia and return it to our people is correct and history-making because Cambodia has been lost by a dictator . . . the treasonous Hun Sen, who has robbed it from us. We have lost our country,” Rainsy said in Sydney.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said he was concerned that Rainsy’s appeal could result in Cambodian workers in South Korea and Thailand losing their jobs.
He said he also believed Rainsy would not return.
“Workplaces like factories will not allow their employees to take leave urgently in huge numbers. If they join him, they will need time and money. So how long will their support last and how will it affect their families?
“I think the likelihood of them coming to welcome him back is very low. And I still don’t believe Rainsy will return. I am concerned that some migrant workers will desperately want to believe him and ask for leave, losing their jobs in the process,” Chanrath said.
National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun questioned whether people would waste their time supporting Rainsy. He said the National Police had instructed people to stay away from the CNRP co-founder.
“If people come to protest legal enforcement by the police, then it would mean they have gone against the court’s ruling and they would be prosecuted.
“They can escort Rainsy, but they cannot go against the implementation of a court ruling because such an action would be illegal. If it is illegal then the police would take action according to the law,” he said.
He said the police had procedures in place to deal with Rainsy’s return.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Rainsy had taken a huge gamble by specifying the date of his return and claiming two million Cambodians abroad would accompany him.
“He has now a strong obligation to return or his political career, reputation and popularity will [be seriously damaged]. He would have to hand the baton over to someone else should he fail to do so,” he said.
But should Rainsy come back, the government would make sure there would be no repeat of the mass rally that greeted him on his previous return from France on July 19, 2013.
Police would arrest him with minimum force, hold him incommunicado in a fortress-like prison and keep him out of the sights and minds of the public, he said.
“Sam Rainsy would end up like Nelson Mandela, who the South African Apartheid regime imprisoned for 27 years,” Mong Hay said.
Meanwhile, Rainsy said he welcomed Hun Sen’s lawsuit in a French court over his allegation the prime minister was behind the 2008 death of police chief Hok Lundy in a helicopter crash.
Hun Sen and his son-in-law Dy Vichea – Lundy’s son – filed separate lawsuits in a Paris court on Tuesday.
“I’ve been many times condemned by the Cambodian courts for political reasons under dictator Hun Sen’s orders.
“I, therefore, welcome the chance to confront Hun Sen in a French court. Such a court represents an independent judiciary, of which Cambodia is in dire need,” he wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
Chanrath said the lawsuits by Hun Sen and Vichea to the French court would be another excuse for Rainsy not to return. He said he supported Rainsy’s advocacy for change but not his strategy.
“I don’t see any benefit in conducting politics this way. I see only confrontation, endless conflict and trepidation for the people, and society having no security. It makes investors concerned and affects the Kingdom’s economy,” Chanrath said.