Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Foreign help has strings: Rainsy

Foreign help has strings: Rainsy

Self-exiled Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy addresses Khmer nationals during a speech at a Buddhist pagoda in Roubaix in northern France on Sunday.
Self-exiled Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy addresses Khmer nationals during a speech at a Buddhist pagoda in Roubaix in northern France on Sunday. Photo supplied

Foreign help has strings: Rainsy

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, currently in self-imposed exile and lobbying for foreign diplomatic support, told supporters in France on Sunday that Cambodia should not rely on foreign powers to solve its own problems, given the country’s history.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party president is currently abroad to avoid, among other legal entanglements, a two-year prison sentence stemming from a recently resurrected 2011 conviction for defaming Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

In his remarks in France, he said a solution to the country’s ongoing political tensions should be flexible and between “Khmers and Khmers”, and should not rely on foreign powers.

Speaking at Wat Rasmei Samakki in France, Rainsy discussed the folly of how, after the decline of the Angkor Empire, successive factions of the Khmer royal family requested assistance and protection from the neighbouring states of Siam, today’s Thailand, and Annam, the precursor of Vietnam, to support their claims on power.

As a result, Thailand came to control the western provinces of Battambang and Siem Reap while Vietnam annexed the Mekong delta, referred to as Kampuchea Krom by some Cambodians.

“If we look at Cambodian history for the last 400 years, we have seen that Khmers have argued with each other continuously,” Rainsy said.

“When there were continuous conflicts, our Khmer behaviour was to win over fellow Khmers absolutely, and to win, we relied on foreign countries.

“This, we must withdraw. If we do not rely on the Western foreign countries, then we rely on the Eastern foreign countries. They help us to win but they do not help for free. They think of their own interests.”

Given his efforts to engage the international community to help with Cambodia’s ongoing political tension, the comments could be seen as somewhat ironic.

But via email, Rainsy said his remarks needed to be understood in the country’s historical context, which he said was reminiscent of Poland – a country “also caught between two powerful and aggressive neighbours: Prussia/Germany and Russia”.

He added: “But Cambodia has nothing to fear from Western countries, like Poland has nothing to fear from Brazil. Those countries do not share any common borders!”

Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan agreed that a reliance on foreign powers undermined the Kingdom’s territory in the past, but the issue was not simple.

He said Vietnam “liberating” Cambodia from the Pol Pot regime, for example, was “meaningful help”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • MEPs' call for Rainsy's safety not European Parliament position

    The European Parliament said on Friday that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position. Delphine Colard, the European Parliament’s press officer told

  • Sar Kheng: Rainsy return not blocked

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng clarified that Cambodia had never blocked Sam Rainsy from returning to the Kingdom. However, he said Cambodia reserved the right to take legal action as allowed by law against activities aimed at destroying the Kingdom. “No one blocked the return