M eas Soy, 57, a Funcinpec commune council candidate in Kampong Chhnang's Svay Chup
commune, was shot dead by two unidentified persons on the night of July 17.
The police said the victim was fired upon with AK-47s while entering his house in
Trapeang Ma'teh village. One of the bullets pierced his neck, killing him instantly.
"We have an idea [about the killers' identities] and are still investigating
the case to identify and arrest them," Touch Naroth, Kampong Chhnang Police
Commissioner told the Post on July 19.
Soy's murder is only the latest in a series of suspicious killings of commune election
candidates aligned with Funcinpec and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). Ironically,
the murder occurred just two days before the release of a Human Rights Action Committee
report that ruled the June 30 murder of Kampong Speu SRP candidate Uch Horn a "political
Funcinpec refused comment on Soy's killing. However Nhek Bun Chhay, Second Deputy
of the Senate told the Post the party had sent a team to investigate the killing.
While Naroth sought to rule out political rivalry as the motive behind the killing,
saying their preliminary investigation had hinted toward a personal financial dispute,
the discovery of a letter delivered to Soy on July 18 warning him to cease "sorcery"
activities bears worrying parallels to Horn.
Kampong Speu police initially described Horn's murder as an act of revenge by superstitious
neighbors who believed he was a sorcerer. The HRAC report rubbishes that explanation,
providing testimonials from villagers that Horn was a popular community activist.
Civic society leaders expressed grave concern that Soy's murder was the conclusive
indicator of long-expected violence, murder and intimidation in the run-up to the
February 3, 2002 commune elections.
"It is worse than the general election [in 1998] because that involved the election
of only 122 people, but now we are looking at the election of more than 1,600 people,"
Chea Vannath, President of the Center for Social Development, said of the possible
implications if Soy's murder is found to be politically motivated.
"[The murders] are very predictable...we have more than 10,000 people involved,
closely competing [for commune council seats]."
Dr. Lao Mong Hay, President of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, expressed little
surprise at news of Soy's killing.
"I think there have been several cases [of politically motivated] murders already...
I think it is just the beginning," Mong Hay said.
"If I were Hun Sen and if I were sincere about having non-violent elections,
I would issue a clear order to all officials involved in the organization of the
election that they should stop [violent acts], particularly to the armed officials."
Human rights organization Licadho and the election monitoring body Comfrel have listed
nearly a dozen cases of intimidation, assault and death threats against SRP and Funcinpec
candidates nationwide in just the past month.