In an interview with The Post on Sunday, Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF) founder Sam Serey blasted former opposition leader Sam Rainsy for his “demagogic policies” and “telling lies again and again”.
Serey’s comments were made partly in reference to events in early December in which Rainsy was nominated “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) at an international party conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US.
Sections of the party labelled the move a “coup”. Serey said this showed the alliance between former CNRP president Kem Sokha and Rainsy had reached a breaking point.
“It has already broken [the Sokha-Rainsy alliance] because they have two different political opinions but share the same party. [Rainsy] launched a party coup and became the acting president on December 2."
“This party coup is not beneficial because it is power grabbing and hinders support from the international community because it is against the party’s bylaws. The CNRP has a problem because of this disagreement, and it is beneficial for the [ruling] Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) that wants to see them break up,” he said.
Serey, who was granted political asylum in Denmark in 2011, claimed to have set up a Cambodian “government in exile” and has been labelled a “terrorist mastermind” by the elected government in the Kingdom. In 2014, he was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for allegedly “plotting” to overthrow the government.
He went on to criticise Rainsy for his lack of principles in his efforts to combat the CPP, and also accused him of toying with CNRP president Sokha’s destiny as an “immoral” act.
“[Rainsy] does not have clear principles or strategies to compete with the ruling party, and he mostly uses unclear demagogic policies, telling lies again and again. That is why I refuse to join him. He has been participating in political games with Hun Sen lately."
“It is not a good thing for politicians to play with the destiny of one person. It is not a virtue and he seems to not understand human values,” he said.
Serey also highlighted inconsistencies between Rainsy’s words and actions, accusing him of having “no clear goals”.
“I have observed his actions and most of them are lies. In 2014 he swore he would not enter the National Assembly but he did. He also wrote a letter to Hun Sen to return to the country, thereby supporting Hun Sen who wants to seem like he is establishing a culture of dialogue. He promised to change, but he instead negotiated with Hun Sen."
“He declared he would return to the country, but he has not returned. He collected money to create a television channel, but he has not built it yet. He keeps making promises, but he does not keep them,” he said.
Serey was also critical of Rainsy’s recent “one person” campaign to project unity in the party.
“It is the language used to capitalise on Sokha’s popularity by saying that he [Sokha] and Rainsy are one person. In fact, Rainsy has taken his chance to negotiate with Hun Sen so that he can return to the country. In short, he is not a real opposition politician as he has got no clear goals and principles,” he said.
Social and political analyst Meas Nee said he thought the rampant criticism among Cambodia’s opposition politicians was a sign of their “weakness”.
“The weakness of the opposition starts with arguments like this. They spend too much time arguing with each other rather than confronting the opponent,” he said.
Former CNRP party lawmaker Ou Chanrath said Serey had the right to criticise Rainsy and any other politician.
“Whether it is a demagogic policy or not, I can’t comment. But, I think in some areas, it is his strategy that others simply cannot understand. With respect to him telling lies again and again, sometimes there is a good reason behind why he can’t tell the full story."
“But it is the right of the public to criticise any politician and politicians cannot avoid that,” he said.