FOR opposition leader Sam Rainsy, it was all a big set up. According to Rainsy
the November 24 street fighting was orchestrated by Prime Minister Hun Sen to
create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation and justify a pre-emptive
crack-down on Government opponents.
Two weeks after the early morning
attacks , Rainsy said his suspicions have been borne out by the on-going
detention and interrogation of hundreds of suspects.
"They have killed
many birds with one stone," Rainsy told the Post. "The first bird is to frame
political opponents in other parties, outside of the CPP. The second object they
have achieved is to threaten some factions within the CPP who are not very
supportive of Mr Hun Sen. This is a message to Hun Sen rivals in the CPP: 'Be
careful, we are watching'."
According to Rainsy, the Cambodian Freedom
Fighters were sponsored by the Government and then set up as scapegoats to
justify an anti-opposition crackdown.
"Authoritarian regimes always need
a scapegoat," he said. "[They] always need an atmosphere of tension so that they
can divert attention ... have a pretext to eliminate their opponents [and] use
national resources ... to serve their partisan or individual
Rainsy ridicules Government allegations that former SRP
member Chhun Yasith, who was expelled from the party two years ago for
appropriating party funds, had the capability to mastermind a CFF
"[Yasith] spent the money in bars, dancing
with girls and at the end of his stay [in Cambodia] he came to me asking for
money," he said. "He didn't have enough to pay for his airport tax or his last
hotel bill. He is not a serious guy."
Rainsy hints that Yasith's current
lifestyle in Long Beach, California, where he supposedly lives with three wives,
is being bankrolled by a wealthy patron.
"[Yasith's lifestyle] is much
above what we would expect from an ordinary Cambodian dissident," he said. " We
would not be surprised if he has received money ... from Hun Sen. Either he has
been led to do things ... or more consciously he [has] played the game, knowing
that it would lead to the death of people, while benefiting Mr Hun
Rainsy describes the Government's November 28 creation of a special
anti-terrorist commission as the second phase of the opposition crackdown begun
in the early hours of November 24.
"They appoint a commission so that
they can point their finger and arrest those people they do not like," he said.
"They fear that one day those people will oppose them so they kill or put [them]
in jail in advance."
Government spokesperson Khieu Kanharith firmly
dismissed Rainsy's allegations, describing them as "unfounded and
irresponsible". He denied any connections between the ruling CPP party and the
CFF, and said Rainsy should "look at the evidence" before making comments
damaging to Cambodia's image.
"If the Government had wanted to do it
[crack down on it's opponents] we would have done it in a much better way," he
Kanharith said all those detained by the police since the attack
have been arrested on "legitimate grounds ... and were "not politically
Describing the CFF attack as having had "no chance of success",
Kanharith said the CFF's real motivation had been to sabotage the image of