Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), released a seven-point plan on Monday to be fulfilled on his return to the Kingdom.
However, analysts have said Rainsy’s proposals were impossible to implement, while it was difficult to take his announced return seriously after he had broken so many of his promises.
Rainsy claimed he would return to restore democracy and defend the rights and freedoms of all citizens, keep Cambodia’s access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement, thereby preserving workers’ jobs, and demand the return of land and homes to those who had seen them “unjustly confiscated by corrupt authorities and unscrupulous businessmen”.
He also vowed to “suppress” government corruption in order to defend the interests of the poor and the weak, and improve their living conditions.
Rainsy said he would solve the debt issue facing Cambodians by “seizing the ill-gotten assets of the country’s corrupt leadership” and use them to “reduce the currently untenable indebtedness of the poorest segment of the population”.
He also said he would “overhaul the justice system by suppressing corruption and ensuring judges’ independence and integrity”.
“The EU seeks only the release of Kem Sokha and the reinstatement of the CNRP,” he said in point two regarding EBA access.
However, his second point seemed partly in contrast with the demands made of Cambodia by the EU to preserve EBA.
Last month, officials from the European Commission and the European External Action Service undertook a mission to the Kingdom.
This came as part of the procedure that could lead to the temporary withdrawal of EBA “following concerns over Cambodia’s record against core human rights and labour rights conventions”.
They examined perceived violations of political rights, freedoms of expression and association, and the rights to organise and have collective bargaining.
The EU team also looked at families allegedly dispossessed by economic land concessions, particularly in the sugar sector.George Edgar, the head of the delegation and the EU ambassador to Cambodia, said on Tuesday that its position, as noted in the June mission, had not changed.
Meanwhile, analysts poured scorn on Rainsy’s plan after previously announced returns to Cambodia had not materialised.
“A man of his word would return to his homeland as he has repeatedly promised. And he would do so with confidence when he would be enthusiastically greeted by the Cambodian people as claimed by this seven-point statement,” political analyst Lao Mong Hay said.
Kin Phea, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on Tuesday that Rainsy’s plan was designed only to catch public attention.
“He knows that some of his seven points reflect what still exists in Cambodia, so he wanted to make himself and his team sound outstanding. Secondly, he wanted to get support from the people because his seven points sound interesting."
“But some of them are not practical, such as returning land to the people. It’s impossible, but he keeps promising to do it, like relieving the debt burden,” he said.
Phea said should Rainsy return, whether accompanied by Members of the European Parliament, as claimed by CNRP deputy president Mu Sochua, he would be arrested and any companions would be powerless to intervene.
He said Rainsy’s plan would bring nothing to Cambodia but chaos.
In the meantime, Cambodians in France said they will stage a protest against Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Ly Poeung said in an interview that he is planning to gather people in Geneva to protest against the Cambodian prime minister.
Hun Sen is in Geneva to attend the WTO Aid for Trade Global Review 2019.
He is also to deliver a speech to the UN Human Rights Council while in the Swiss city on the progress of human rights in Cambodia.
However, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesperson Sok Eysan said on Tuesday that while people were entitled to protest against Hun Sen in a democratic country, the number of protesters would be far fewer than those showing support.