Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Russey Keo flooding crisis takes on political edge as SRP insulted

Russey Keo flooding crisis takes on political edge as SRP insulted

Russey Keo flooding crisis takes on political edge as SRP insulted

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A former opposition member turned CPP official says Russey Keo's plight is proof of the SRP's indifference towards suffering of Cambodians

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

Srei Sros floats atop an inner tube in flood-ravaged Russey Keo district in Phnom Penh. 

FLOOD-ravaged Russey Keo district became the flash point for a weekend row between Sam Rainsy Party officials and opposition defectors to the rival Cambodian People's Party over who could best serve the needs of residents living in the inundated community.

Russey Keo, where building projects' reclamation of  nearby holding ponds have been blamed  for heavy flooding that has blocked roads, polluted homes and forced children from their schools, has come to signify for some the impact of poorly-planned development in the rapidly growing capital.

An SRP delegation that visited the area came under attack from the Chrang Chamreh 2 deputy commune chief Chao Ostala, a former opposition member who quit the party prior to this year's  national elections.

Chao Ostala charged the SRP with ignoring the plight of the people it was meant to be helping - not just in Russey Keo, but across the Kingdom.

"I used to live with them [SRP] for 13 years. When people are in trouble and seek their help, they just refer them to the commune chief," Chao Ostala said.

"I spent thousands of dollars to build roads as an opposition member. It makes me angry that I didn't get anything in return. But they are parliamentarians, and they have rights. I have rights also, and it is my right to say that I have suffered because of them," he added.

"What has the SRP done to help people ... parliamentarians get salaries from the people, and they must help as well," he said.

Following orders

But Ho Vann, president of the SRP's Phnom Penh branch, said Chao Ostala's complaints were only intended to make a name for himself in the CPP.

"We understand his position. He was ordered to insult the SRP, so we're not angry with him," he said. "He is just trying to show his new party that he really supports them."

Ho Vann added that Chao Ostala defected to the CPP primarily because the ruling party agreed to appoint his wife as deputy governor of Russey Keo district. Sam Rainsy said the party would move to stop the reclaiming of the ponds, which he said caused the flooding in Russey Keo.

"If we fail in that, we will invite all victims of the flooding to Phnom Penh to demonstrate." 

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