Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy ban to protect airport, official claims

Rainsy ban to protect airport, official claims

Heavily armed Royal Cambodian Armed Forces members stand guard at the Phnom Penh International Airport in November last year after rumours Sam Rainsy would be returning to the country.
Heavily armed Royal Cambodian Armed Forces members stand guard at the Phnom Penh International Airport in November last year after rumours Sam Rainsy would be returning to the country. Heng Chivoan

Rainsy ban to protect airport, official claims

The official who issued the ban on opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s return to Cambodia defended his decision in a radio interview on Tuesday, explaining that the directive was issued to avoid damage to airport infrastructure in the event that demonstrations broke out.

The ban on Rainsy’s return – and even on airplanes allowing him to board inbound flights – was issued by the Council of Ministers earlier this month, nearly a year after the CNRP leader again fled to Paris to avoid arrest. The ban, which amounts to state-sanctioned exile, has been roundly criticised by observers.

Tek Reth Samrach, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers who issued the ban, said in an interview with Vayo FM that his decision was justified.

“We have to prevent it in advance. We see that his trip to Cambodia in the future under these political circumstances will lead to demonstrations,” Reth Samrach said. “When he enters, he would be arrested. There will be demonstrations, there will protests.”

“At the airport, there is a lot of infrastructure worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And each airplane is worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” the official said. “On behalf of the authorities, you have to take the responsibility to implement your obligations.”

“In this case, I am responsible,” he said. “For example, if he came and the airplane was on fire, who would be responsible? It’s only me in the end.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the