The Khmer Student Intelligent League Association (KSILA) has said its members, despite warnings from Phnom Penh Municipal Hall, will lay flowers and tributes for the third year at the Caltex petrol station in Phnom Penh where political analyst Kem Ley was slain on July 10, 2016.
KSILA president Moung Sony said laying flowers to commemorate the third anniversary of Ley’s death will not affect public order and harm anyone.
“It is completely normal that we plan to lay flowers to commemorate [Ley’s death]. There will be about three or four people and it will only take 15 minutes."
“So our group will go [to the petrol station] and then continue to Kem Ley’s memorial service in his hometown with six monks,” Sony said.
He told The Post that Phnom Penh Municipal Hall had prohibited them from laying flowers because the petrol station, on the capital’s Monivong Boulevard, was a private location. Sony said the explanation was unreasonable.
“If the petrol station is a private location, the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall should not have the right to approve or not approve. Because it’s a privately owned place, the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall should tell us to ask the owner of the petrol station."
“That would be more reasonable, but [the municipal hall] used the term ‘not approved’, and cited this reason,” he said.
Last Monday, the KSILA submitted a letter to Phnom Penh Municipal Hall requesting permission for 10 people to gather to place flowers at the petrol station on Wednesday between 9am and 11am.
On Thursday, the municipal hall issued a letter denying their request because the area was under private management and instructed the group to stage their memorial ceremony at the victim’s home or at the KSILA’s headquarters.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Sunday: “To stage religious ceremonies in order to honour [the dead] . . . we have other places, such as pagodas, for that type of event.”
The municipal hall’s letter said: “Regarding the proposed gathering at the above area or along a public street if it affects security, safety, social or public order or involves any activity other than a commemorative ceremony, the head [of the KSILA] will be held responsible before the law.”
Social and political analyst Lao Mong Hay declined to comment on the municipal hall prohibiting the memorial but said he would participate in the day’s events by selling memorial mugs bearing a picture of Ley.
“Personally, I have arranged the memorial mugs to honour Kem Ley. They are for sale to raise money for the funeral costs. The mugs will have a picture of Kem Ley on them and will be sold for $6. I will attend the memorial service with Kem Ley’s family in his hometown on the afternoon on July 10."
“I will live stream it on Facebook and talk about tributes to him, my relationship with him and the process of finding justice [for his murder],” Mong Hay said.
Ley, 45, was shot twice with a Glock handgun inside a Caltex petrol station cafe on July 10, 2016.
After the murder, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed down a whole-life jail term to a man named Oeut Ang who, after his arrest on March 1, 2017, gave police the name Chuob Samlab, which means “meet to kill” in Khmer.