Prime Minister Hun Sen over the weekend donated a further $50,000 to the family of slain political commentator Kem Ley through Fresh News CEO Lim Cheavutha, according to the government-aligned news outlet, with the money going toward a memorial stupa.
Cheavutha last week delivered $10,000 on behalf of Hun Sen – who has sued multiple people, including former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, for saying he was behind the July 2016 murder – to cover funeral costs, and on Saturday gave $50,000 toward the stupa.
Kem Ley’s brother, Kem Rithisith, confirmed the donation by telephone yesterday. After accepting the donation on Saturday, he had told Fresh News the family of the slain analyst would not accept criticism from the public about their choice to accept the money.
“I appeal to the public to please not smear us. Samdech [Hun Sen] contributing to building Kem Ley’s stupa is to his merit – so please do not smear us. Our family takes the money for the ceremony and the stupa, not to favour any party,” Rithisith told the outlet.
“Please don’t attack us and say we are using the ceremony for business,” he said. “All of you are not in our family, so you do not understand the difficulties. If anyone wonders about the expenses of the anniversary ceremony, please come ask and we will explain.”
Sao Kosal, an official at housing rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut and member of the stupa construction committee, said the building would be done in a style mixing elements of the Phnom Chisor and Preah Vihear temples. It will be 5.2 by 9.5 metres at the base and 16 metres high, Kosal said, and will cost $170,000 in total, with the family hoping to raise more money.