Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Return sparks CNRP

Return sparks CNRP

Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy
Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy greets supporters at a political rally in Kampong Speu province. HENG CHIVOAN

Return sparks CNRP

Less than 24 hours after landing in Cambodia, opposition leader Sam Rainsy hit the campaign trail this weekend, delivering speeches across Kampong Speu, Takeo and Kampot provinces on Saturday and yesterday as part of his whirlwind, 15-province tour before Sunday’s ballot.

Speaking in Kampot yesterday, Rainsy urged voters of all political stripes to throw their votes behind the opposition come July 28.

“I would like to appeal to all supporters from all political parties, if you care about our nation ... we have to hold hands to find ways to rescue our nation,” he said, adding that the time for quarrelling had passed.

His deputy, Kem Sokha, meanwhile, asked that voters monitor polling stations come Sunday and fight back should they spot those from other villages voting.

“If you see anyone who doesn’t live in your village but votes in your village, please, all of you, shout loudly in order not to allow them to vote. If you finish voting, please do not go home, stay until 3pm to wait for ballot counting,” he said.

“Please watch the ballot boxes to make sure they don’t cheat us. If you do, the CNRP will win 100 per cent.”

In speeches delivered to thousands of screaming supporters across districts throughout the CPP stronghold of Kampong Speu on Saturday, the Cambodia National Rescue Party president and his deputy repeatedly vowed to clean up the government.

“I would like to appeal to all Cambodians who love the nation, who love justice, who are sympathetic to the victims, poor people and weak people, who were badly treated by land grabs and home grabs, to join together to save the nation,” he said, speaking at a market in Chbar Mon.

Standing on a truck bed, microphone in hand, Rainsy addressed vendors outside of Kampong Speu market, criticising Prime Minister Hun Sen for corruption, the destruction of natural resources and the influx of illegal Vietnamese immigrants.

An estimated 3,000 supporters gathered outside the CNRP offices early Saturday morning, packing the roads as they awaited Rainsy’s arrival; at least one supporter fainted amid the chaos.

“If we are not careful, Cambodia will become a Vietnam, Cambodia will become Kampuchea Krom, we will be a province under control of Vietnam. The current leader is really corrupt, so please, all compatriots, make a change and have a clean leader, so that our country will be just and can develop like other developed countries,” Rainsy told the crowd.

“All compatriots – this is the last opportunity, if we don’t rescue our nation, four or five years more is too late, Cambodia will be full of Vietnamese, we will become slaves of Vietnam.”

On Friday, Rainsy returned after nearly four years of self-exile following the issuance of a Royal pardon overturning his 11-year prison sentence.

Speaking to supporters Saturday, Rainsy stressed that he had never been guilty and that the pardon – which was ordered by Hun Sen – was simply the righting of a wrong.

Perched on a motorbike, listening to the speech, 31-year-old Nov Sokunthen said she believed the party would install a better pension system and increase the wages of garment workers like herself.

“I am really excited today, I hope our family will benefit from the CNRP if they win,” the widowed mother of two said, adding that she alone from her village had braved the CPP-dominated local authorities to come out.

“As of this time, there is nothing more to be afraid of from the CPP. I stopped fearing them. Even if they threaten, I will not be afraid anymore.”

Running up to shake the hand of Rainsy as he greeted supporters along National Road 4, a 35-year-old who ran a taxi van with her husband said she hoped gas prices and toll fares would drop if the opposition won.

“Our business is not really good, because we spend a lot on tolls and petrol,” said Hong Sopheaktra.

After visiting several other districts, the rally stopped at Phsar Thnal Toteung, at the border of Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces. As they arrived, a group of ruling-party supporters pulled in after them, playing music over the sound of his speeches. With little hesitation, Rainsy disembarked and began walking around the market, greeting vendors personally.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who is also a ruling-party spokesman, said Rainsy’s claims were little more than bluster.

“We have no concern over the CNRP’s claim. It is like a wave at the surface of the ocean, but deep down is the CPP’s force,” Kanharith said yesterday, speaking of the apparent show of support.

He also defended the government’s track record on cracking down on corruption, noting that “we already have a law against corruption … all high-ranking officials must declare their assets; we publicise the fees of most public services. This is a starting point for a state of law,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia