P OLITICAL dissident Sam Rainsy's new party may be about to claim its first major
defector - Funcinpec deputy secretary-general Nuon Soeur.
Soeur is believed to be on the verge of resigning from Funcinpec, and is reportedly
considering joining Rainsy.
At press time, Soeur was in Battambang and could not be contacted for comment. His
wife said Soeur would soon hold a press conference to explain his intentions.
Earlier, the Khmer Conscience newspaper quoted Soeur as saying he had no relationship
with Rainsy but would join his party if it was truly democratic and ready to serve
Funcinpec secretary-general Prince Norodom Sirivudh, asked about Soeur, told the
Post: "I fear we may lose someone."
But he said he had not received Soeur's resignation and "I think we should wait
for the resignation letter" before he could comment.
Rainsy was out of Cambodia and could not be contacted for comment.
Soeur is the former National Police deputy chief who, after being sacked earlier
this year, spoke out to the Post about alleged high-level corruption and involvement
in drug smuggling.
Meanwhile, Rainsy unveiled the name of his new party - Khmer Nation - in an Oct 12
press statement but gave no details of its leadership.
"This new party shall be called Khmer Nation," the former Funcinpec MP
announced in the statement.
Reiterating the foreshadowed nationalistic platform of the party, Rainsy said Khmer
Nation would aim to unite ethnic Khmers from all social circles and classes in and
out of Cambodia.
The party would gather all patriotic forces who detested broken promises made at
the last election, and oppose every form of absolutism, inhumanity and corruption.
"Khmer Nation will eliminate all the vestiges of communism, in particular the
use of power, arms or money to violate the law and act unjustly towards the decent,
poor, powerless people," the statement said.
If Khmer Nation won the next election, it would reorganize the country on the basis
of unversival respect for the rule of law, Rainsy said.
The former Finance Minister, ousted from the Funcipec party and the National Assembly,
repeated his party's previously-outlined platform which included strict immigration
policies and seeking the return of Cambodian land "stolen" by its neighbors.
Several Cambodian political observers spoken to by the Post welcomed Rainsy's party
but expressed concern that it appeared "extremely nationalistic."
"I wish him well," said one observer, who would not be named. "[But]
what I fear is that the party could become an extreme nationalist party equivalent
to national fronts in the United Kingdom and France" which pursued racist views,
he said. "I hope it won't go that far. It's not good for the country... Look
at the Lon Nol and Khmer Rouge periods."
While there was nothing wrong with patriotism, "I fear that if we are too nationalistic
we might work against our national interests."
Another observer gave a similar view, and questioned whether Khmer Nation would be
able to deliver on its promise. He described the party's platform as one of "extreme
imagination" which would be difficult to realize.
A foreign observer said: "If this is what he [Rainsy] is saying now, what will
he be promising during the election when he really wants votes?"