Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protest disastrous for ex-aide



Protest disastrous for ex-aide

Former Cambodia National Rescue Party adviser Lak Sopheap
Former Cambodia National Rescue Party adviser Lak Sopheap hands out fliers in Phnom Penh yesterday morning while protesting. Vireak Mai

Protest disastrous for ex-aide

A protest against her dismissal from the opposition party backfired on Lak Sopheap yesterday as counter-protesters demanded she settle outstanding “debts” and some of her own supporters admitted not knowing why they were protesting.

Sopheap was fired from her position as an assistant to Cambodia National Rescue Party deputy president Kem Sokha on Tuesday after alleging last week that Sokha had accused party leader Sam Rainsy of accepting $20 million to negotiate with Prime Minister Hun Sen during the political deadlock earlier this year.

After vowing on Wednesday to bring up to 300 people to the CNRP’s headquarters to protest against her dismissal, Sopheap was instead confronted by an angry mob. A violent clash came close to erupting as people confronted the fired assistant over money she allegedly owes them.

Among them, well-known CNRP-aligned pop singer Sophoan Lary was one who got up in Sopheap’s face.

“My older sister will arrive here soon,” he said. “[Sopheap] has borrowed $300 from her and now says she has no money to pay her back.”

Others in the crowd hurled allegations and insults at Sopheap. One irate owner of a nearby café accused her of failing to settle a bill.

“You owe me 1,000 riel [$0.25 cents] for a coffee,” the man shouted.

But Sopheap denied the accusations.

“I did not borrow from anyone,” she said. “Don’t make worthless allegations like this or I will sue.”

Appearing overwhelmed and realising the numbers were against her, Sopheap tried to shake off the crowd, who briefly gave chase as she climbed into a tuk-tuk and fled.

Of the scores of people gathered outside the CNRP’s headquarters, only about 10 seemed to be supporting Sopheap. And some of those were confused as to why they were there.

“I was told to come to protest about voting,” said a man from Kampong Speu province who declined to be named.

A few other women who came with Sopheap said they did not know what was going on and said they had been invited to collect money.

But Sopheap did have some real support.

“I came here wanting to know what the dismissal is really all about,” said Ty Khea Yuk, 64. “I want to know why.”

Ou Chanrith, head of the CNRP’s disciplinary committee who terminated Sopheap’s employment and party membership after she failed to substantiate her allegations, said yesterday’s incident was largely over “private individual” business.

Sopheap, he added, had the right to protest her expulsion from the party in writing.

Soeng Sen Karuna, a senior investigator for human-rights group Adhoc, said the CNRP should have spoken with Sopheap inside to defuse tensions.

“We have advised her to leave because of how tense things are here . . . we do not know where some of these people have come from,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,

  • More than 540 deported in first nine months

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) deported 542 foreigners in the first nine months of this year for various offences. GDI spokesman Keo Vanthan said the deportees were a mix of 40 nationalities, most of them Chinese. Since 2014, he said the GDI had