A former member of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in Svay Rieng province claimed on Sunday that he has been forced into hiding because he criticised the Romeas Haek district governor and local authorities.
Kong Mas, the former head of the CNRP’s Svay Rieng provincial committee, told The Post on Monday he had gone into hiding a few weeks ago after hearing talk of a hunt for him. A visit by police on Sunday, he said, confirmed the rumours.
Mas, who is expected to stand in the July 29 national elections, fled to Bangkok following the party’s dissolution by the Supreme Court in November. He returned after reporting intimidation and harassment by Thai officials before recently going into hiding.
“The commune police chief visited a CNRP commune official and asked whether I was back in Romeas Haek. My mother also spoke to me [on Sunday night] warning me not to return home,” he said.
A former CNRP official, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that commune police had been to see him.
“The commune police came to ask if Kong Mas had been to Romeas Haek recently. The police told me: ‘If he comes back, please let us know’,” he said.
While the official said he did not know the reason behind the visit by police, Mas said that he had frequently criticised local authorities over developments in the area.
“I criticised Romeas Haek District Governor Penh Chea for trying to take a plot of land from a family in Kampong Trach commune. The family had lived in that area since 2008. Penh Chea came later but he had the land title since 2004.
“Chea claimed that he wanted to give the land to the state, but there must be proper compensation for the family,” Mas said.
He claimed to have also criticised road construction in the district and the felling of trees to be sold to Vietnam. This, he claimed, happened not only under Chea, but also previous governors.
“I have frequently used Facebook to criticise developments in the district, especially regarding land disputes where villagers have had their land taken, and not just by one family, but many, and this made the [authorities] unhappy. I have also criticised the district governor for his involvement in these matters,” he said.
Lut Rom, the Kampong Trach commune police chief who allegedly went to look for Mas, and Sam Sam Ol, Romeas Haek district police chief, declined to comment when contacted by The Post.
Koy Sopheap, Svay Rieng deputy police crime chief, and Phan Ratana, a spokesperson for Svay Rieng provincial court, said they were unaware of the case or if an arrest warrant had been issued for Mas. Chea could also not be reached for comment.