FLAMBOYANT politician Dr Long Bora has made a high profile return to Phnom Penh
just two months after skipping a two-year jail term - and declared he will
become prime minister.
At a comeback celebration given by his Association
of Opposition Political Party (AOP) on July 20, Dr Bora brushed aside questions
about how he had avoided being put behind bars.
Instead, in a rousing
speech, he turned optimistically to the future and announced he intends to be
prime minister in three years time, with the AOP taking the most seats at the
next election. He did not mention whether he would then have to rename the
Addressing a packed house of party faithful, family members and
media, Dr Bora said: "Today Hun Sen, tomorrow Long Bora.
"I want to
create The United States of Cambodia, a free democracy. Communists are very bad.
Cambodia is still controlled by them. There will be an election in three
"After I'm prime minister, in three months Phnom Penh will be
clean like in America, no more corruption. If not, I say kill Long Bora, no more
Dr Bora founded the AOP seven months ago, with the blessing
of King Norodom Sihanouk. The party was established to fight communists, who Dr
Bora sees as "very corrupt and still in control of the country".
ran in last year's election on a similar platform under the banner of Cambodia
Free Independent Democracy Political Party (CFIDPP). This party was quietly
dissolved after it failed to win a single seat despite Dr Bora's predictions
they would secure 70.
The vocal politician says he made his name and a
considerable fortune as a brief, earning him the title "International Doctor of
Law". He claims to have had four years training in Paris and to have obtained a
doctorate from Cambridge University, England. He numbers among his clients
Imelda Marcos, wife of the Filipino dictator Ferdinand.
It was as a
lawyer Dr Bora fell foul of the law himself this year, when a female client, Hak
Sokom, sued him for assault and battery at his Phnom Penh office. She said he
slapped her around and handcuffed her.
Dr Bora's renowned skills could
not save him from conviction, the Municipal Court sentenced him to two years
jail and a fine of $16,350 on May 13.
However he was not in court to
hear the sentence. Four hours earlier he hopped on a flight to Malaysia.
In an interview with the Post on July 20, Dr Bora denied taking the
plane to escape jail. He said: "That day I developed very high blood pressure,
it was over 180, I had to go to Malaysia to get urgent medical treatment.
"I have appealed the Court's decision, I will not have to go to jail
until they hear the appeal in about a month. But I want to clear my
"Hak Sokom, she's a con-girl. I bailed her out of jail, but then in
my office I decided I did not want her to be my client. She became angry and hit
me. I had my guards take her to the police.
"She said I hit her but I
never did. She was alone in my office with me and my guards, I could have killed
her if I wanted too. Her story is untrue.
"The Justice Ministry wants to
send me to jail. I don't want the appeal to be heard by the CPP government. I
don't want them to sentence me, I want my case to be heard in Malaysia or
England or the United States. Cambodian judges are corrupt."
the country's corruption head-on Dr Bora established the Yutethor newspaper last
October. The paper ceased publication in May, according to the 56-year-old Dr
Bora, because of his high blood pressure.
He said: "The law in Cambodia
is [the Minister of Justice] Chem Sngoun's law, not government law. Chem Sngoun
is angry with me because in my newspaper I published stories about corruption in
the Ministry of Justice. He does not want me to stay here.
"But I don't
want the anger to continue, I want him to be like a brother so we can work
together to help rebuild Cambodia with King Sihanouk who I love very much. The
problem is the system is still communist."
"I want to use my party to
uncover and get rid of corruption. Justice in Cambodia is difficult, it is still
the same CPP system as before. So King Sihanouk said to me I must try to change
the system, help Cambodia to become a democracy like in Europe where I spent 32
However some media observers at the political beanfest at 69
Norodom Boulevard - who hadn't indulged in too much traditional Khmer curry or
free flowing Angkor beer served by party members - may have noticed some odd
contradictions. For instance Dr Bora smiled happily while posing for cameramen
in front of a sign proclaiming his old political outfit the CFIDPP.
said that during his 14 years of legal practice in Switzerland he met Imelda
Marcos, which was the start of a ten-year association. He claims her as a friend
and client. He said he was responsible for handling some of the legal affairs of
the huge estate accumulated by her late husband Ferdinand.
A source at
the Ministry of the Interior, who requested anonymity, questioned Dr Bora's
legal training and experience and said checks with Cambridge University failed
to find the Cambodian on their records.
Dr Bora returned to Cambodia from
Switzerland in 1992 and founded the CFIDPP. Sadly he said: "I had to abandon my
beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife who didn't want to be the wife of a
politician. But I did it for Cambodia."
During the elections he stood
before the people as a highly educated "clean man" who would stamp out
corruption and modernize an oil-rich Cambodia through earning large revenues
from petroleum exploration.
Undeterred by his lack of electoral success
last year, Dr Bora then wrote a letter to Prince Ranariddh, whose party won the
most seats in the election, stating: "I have no hesitation to accept a position
as Governor of Phnom Penh or in areas of the Justice Ministry doing what I do
best within the scope of my experiences."
Dr Bora said: "Prince Ranariddh
never replied to the letter. I was disappointed at not having a role in the new
After the election Dr Bora began a legal firm which by May
this year had a staff of 85 and offices in Phnom Penh and the provinces. Before
hopping on the plane to Malaysia he was heard commenting to staff: "Keep up the
good work at the firm as usual, I'll be back in two months."
But Dr Bora
said that while he was away much of his office equipment including furniture,
photocopiers and fax machines had been stolen, he suspects by the Cambodian
This has forced him to shift from his bright pink head
office to a smaller location on Issarak Boulevard. He has also had to reduce his
staff to 10.
But his troubles with the government over the legal firm
may now be over. He said: "King Sihanouk faxed the Minister of Justice on July
21 asking the minister to facilitate the re-establishment of the
Dr Bora said after his name was cleared, the AOP would become much
more active and gear-up for the election to be held in three years time.
Dr Bora denied that he received any funding for his party from the CIA,
The Asia Foundation or any other United States organization.
"All the money for the party is from my private funds. Please get the United
States to help me, our party needs the money."
Party members and staff at
Dr Bora's legal office all expressed pleasure at having him back.
Staff member said: "I knew he would keep his promise and return in two
A Khmer journalist at the party concluded: "I'm glad he's back.
Now things won't be quiet around here any more."