Former opposition leader Kem Sokha on May 5 said Cambodia should not lose hope and reject assistance from compatriots and foreign “friends” amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19.
Sokha, former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), made the call after meeting Carmen Moreno, head of the EU delegation in Cambodia, at his home in Phnom Penh.
In a Facebook post on May 4, Sokha said he had been purchasing and providing food assistance to needy people affected by the pandemic every month. But this was interrupted due to the lockdown of the capital and adjacent Kandal town in Kandal province was imposed, he said without elaborating.
He said that every month he usually meets with foreign ambassadors to exchange views and ask them to continue providing support to Cambodians.
“I believe that Cambodia is a small country and its people are still poor. When there is a crisis, we always need assistance in the form of equipment, financing, technical help, and perspectives from the international community as they offer it to us.
“We must not lose hope or reject the assistance provided on a humanitarian basis from our friends.
“But like I have said and done, what is really important is to start with the Cambodian people and increase our understanding about the livelihoods of our people and the country. We must love our people and participate in helping Cambodia in this difficult time.
“There must be forgiveness and unity among Cambodians. No one should put their individual interests ahead of Cambodia’s,” he said.
Spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party Sok Eysan said the meeting between Sokha and the EU’s Moreno was a private matter between them. But he warned that if the meeting was more than just a normal conversation, it could violate the court order banning Sokha from involvement in politics.
He said Sokha should not be attempting to negotiate cooperation between Cambodia and the EU and that diplomacy between Cambodia and the bloc should be conducted between the government that was elected in Cambodia and the elected representatives of the EU.
“She [Moreno] clearly knows this already because she is a diplomat, but if she talks to [Sokha] what is the point of that? She could come and talk with the government that was elected by the will of the people,” he said.