The Cambodian People’s Party celebrated the apparent mass defection of 200 people from the opposition with a ceremonial burning of their old party T-shirts in Takeo on Sunday, although the opposition yesterday denied the defectors were ever members.
Led by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s son, Sok Puthyvuth, the ruling party’s provincial working group accepted the reported turncoats from the Cambodia National Rescue Party in Bati district’s Komar Reachea commune in a much-photographed ceremony.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that the defection ceremony was a normal event for people sick of the CNRP.
“We did not pay them to do it; if we had the money to hire them, we would give that money to the people since it would be better,” Eysan said.
However, Mao Sophal, director of the CNRP’s provincial executive committee, denied that the 200 people were ever activists with the CNRP, and said they had never been listed as members.
One of the defectors, Ouk Leng, 63, nevertheless said yesterday that he had been a member of the opposition for a decade. “For me, an old man, I do not want any position in the party, I just want the CPP to solve the problems for the people,” Leng said.
CNRP spokesperson Yim Sovann said only that in images he had seen from the event, the burning shirts appeared to have been newly printed.