Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Interior minister calls for calm, negotiations

Interior minister calls for calm, negotiations

Interior Minister Sar Kheng (left) and acting CNRP leader Kem Sokha shake hands at a political meeting at the National Assembly last year.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng (left) and acting CNRP leader Kem Sokha shake hands at a political meeting at the National Assembly last year. Heng Chivoan

Interior minister calls for calm, negotiations

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Wednesday delivered an appeal for calm and negotiations, declaring political competition is “not the enemy”.

Seen by many as a moderate voice within the Cambodian People’s Party, Kheng said there needed to be acceptance of the fact that politics are inherently competitive.

“This is competition, and we need to understand this issue and not go beyond that,” he said. “When we go beyond it, there will a break in the nation and it will not become democracy, but anarchy. The competition is to serve people, and it is not the enemy.”

The remarks follow months of political turbulence, with the ruling CPP accused of using the courts to harass the Cambodia National Rescue Party with questionable legal cases.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, in particular, has adopted a tough stance, threatening to “eliminate” the CNRP if it goes ahead with plans for mass demonstrations.

In recent days, however, the CPP appears to have softened its stance, with the premier hinting at possible negotiations at the National Assembly.

Warning against “fighting”, Kheng said it was time to “sit together” and “create a multi-party democracy” where opponents were considered “competitors”, not “enemies”.

Though Kheng was once a leader within a faction of the CPP loyal to the late Chea Sim, once a rival to Hun Sen’s own powerbase, political analyst Ou Virak said he believed the interior minister’s comments were part of a “good cop, bad cop” strategy, rather than a sign of dissent within the ruling party’s ranks.

Additional reporting by Shaun Turton

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Still no word about EBA but rice likely unaffected

    Officials on Monday said the government had not received an official statement regarding the EU’s potential withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. The EU launched the EBA withdrawal procedure on February 12, citing “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank