Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Opposition name smeared by ruling party

Opposition name smeared by ruling party

Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, seen here speaking at an event last year, recently accused the opposition party of stealing the name ‘Cambodia National Rescue Party’.
Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, seen here speaking at an event last year, recently accused the opposition party of stealing the name ‘Cambodia National Rescue Party’. Heng Chivoan

Opposition name smeared by ruling party

The ruling party seems to have a new target in its campaign to criticise the opposition party, taking aim at the very name of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Legal Documentation Centre on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin reportedly accused the CNRP of lifting its name from his now-defunct Khmer Rescue newspaper.

“The opposition party stole the name to [make their own], but it was my group’s newspaper,” Chhin was quoted as saying by pro-government media source Fresh News. “When the Khmer Rescue paper was requested to close, we established another newspaper, named the National Rescue paper.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen himself first brought up the issue during a re-enactment of his defection from the Khmer Rouge to Vietnam last week when he claimed the term “national rescue” “belongs” to the CPP because his party saved Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge.

CPP spokesman Suos Yara, meanwhile, made similar comments to Fresh News on Tuesday, claiming the CNRP uses the name to mislead people.

“Hun Sen is the founder of the armed forces, solidarity and national rescue,” Yara was quoted as saying. “Another party taking the term of ‘national rescue’ is a hoax. Based on the history of that party, what things have they rescued?”

Yara stood by his comments when reached by the telephone yesterday, warning that the CNRP must be careful in how they use the phrase.“If this phrase destroys peace at any time, then this phrase is also dangerous,” Yara said, declining to elaborate on what danger the term might pose or what the consequences would be.

However, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that the government did not plan to challenge the CNRP’s right to the name.

“We are just telling the people who rescued the nation . . . [It was] only the CPP,” he said yesterday, while acknowledging the opposition’s party name is legally recognised by the Ministry of Interior.

However, Siphan later noted that if Chhin had registered the name “National Rescue” with the Ministry of Commerce, he may have the legal right to challenge the CNRP’s use of it.

Chhin could not be reached for additional comment yesterday.

CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua declined to comment in detail on the allegations but said that the party followed legal guidelines in registering the name.

“We are registered and officially organised by the Ministry of Interior,” she said.

“We have complied with the law . . . We have already gone through two elections . . . We are CNRP,” she added.

Political analyst Meas Ny said that the attacks on the CNRP’s name were a “clear example” of the ruling party’s bureaucratic harassment of the opposition.

“Why would the institution be allowed to register the name in the first place [if Chhin had done so already]?” Ny asked.

The comments follow a series of recent moves perceived by observers as political harassment, including putting pressure on the CNRP to change a popular campaign slogan and forcing them to resubmit their party platform. The CNRP also had to hold multiple leadership elections because the Ministry of Interior would not approve the proceedings.

The CPP attack on the CNRP’s name harkens back to a central debate in Cambodian politics, Ny said, of whether Hun Sen and his ilk rescued Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge or were part of an occupation force.

However, Ny said that the CPP’s constant posturing of itself as the Kingdom’s saviour is losing potency with the new generation.

“They should know this kind of strategy doesn’t seem to work now . . . They should focus on policy,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied