Cambodians have donated more than $450,000 to buy food, medicine and other necessities for soldiers and villagers at Preah Vihear temple, according to figures from fundraising organizations set up after the border dispute began.
Bayon Television executive director Thit Thavrith told the Post on July 22 that the Bayon Foundation for the defense and development of the area around Preah Vihear had so far raised about $250,000.
Thavrith said the foundation, which is headed by Hun Mana, a daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen, would continue to seek donations “until the Thai invaders withdraw from our sovereign territory.”
CTN reporter Soy Sopheap said a fund established by a group of broadcast and print media journalists had so far raised at least $80,000 to support soldiers deployed at the temple.
“This is the first time that Cambodian people have made donations to support the armed forces and villagers at Preah Vihear and they are doing so because of their love for the nation, its territorial sovereignty and the ancient temple,” Soy Sopheap said.
CTN anchor Ith Setha said on July 22 that a support fund it established had raised more than $183,171 since July 18. A broad cross-section of the community, including monks, vendors and the rich, were responding to appeals for donations broadcast on the station, he said.
However, Son Chhay, a lawmaker with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said the fund raising activities were part of a strategy by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to boost its image ahead of the national election on July 27.
Chhay praised the generosity of donors but said the CPP should have released funds from the reserve national budget approved by the National Assembly.
His accusation drew a sharp response from CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who described Chhay as “stupid” and a “traitor.”
Yeap said it was not yet the appropriate time to release funds from the reserve budget, which totals about $24.4 million.
“We already have enough budget to support the military,” Yeap said.