Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Politikoffee suspends meets amid tensions

Politikoffee suspends meets amid tensions

Politikoffee members discuss Sino-Cambodian relations in August in Phnom Penh.
Politikoffee members discuss Sino-Cambodian relations in August in Phnom Penh. Facebook

Politikoffee suspends meets amid tensions

The organisers of the weekly forum Politikoffee confirmed yesterday that they plan to temporarily suspend operations beginning this week as a result of members feeling they “cannot work to their full capacity” amid an ongoing political crackdown.

The informal group, mostly run by and geared towards young people, often features political figures speaking candidly about the political situation in Cambodia.

“There is no direct threat and no direct intimidation made by anyone against our group, which peacefully believes in diversely engaging various different sides of political beliefs,” the Politikoffee team said in an email on Monday, adding that activities will resume in the future.

The voluntary suspension follows the dissolution of the main opposition political party and the closure of critical media outlets, and coincides with threats against the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, a prominent rights organisation that has not hesitated to criticise the government in the past.

Yoeurng Sotheara, a legal officer at election watchdog Comfrel, said he “regrets” that Politikoffee felt the need to suspend activities, as the forum encouraged young people to get involved in politics.

“It was a space that allowed an opportunity for young people to engage in critical thinking about the political situation in Cambodia,” Sotheara said.

He blamed the “narrowing down of space and accessibility of knowledge” for the forum’s suspension.

Heng Yong, a frequent attendee at Politikoffee events, which were held in the capital, said the suspension will negatively impact youth involvement in politics, and blamed it on political “tension”.

“This situation makes the experts and guest speakers hesitate or temporarily suspend their public activities,” Yong explained.

Naly Pilorge, with human rights group Licadho, said the right to participate in public debate was fundamental.

“I believe in any progressive and functioning society, the right to access independent information and debate amongst peers about politics, health care, education, economy and other key issues that affect youths is as important and fundamental as the right to food or the right to shelter,” she said.

Updated Wednesday, 29 November, 8:31am

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal