Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A ‘unique Khmer family’

A ‘unique Khmer family’

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy talks to Cambodian supporters at a function in Sydney on Saturday during part of an Australia visit with deputy leader Kem Sokha.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy talks to Cambodian supporters at a function in Sydney on Saturday during part of an Australia visit with deputy leader Kem Sokha. Photo supplied

A ‘unique Khmer family’

In an apparent defence of his frequent absence from the Kingdom, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy said that visiting Cambodians in wealthy Western countries such as France or Australia was just as important as visiting them in Cambodia itself.

“We all, whether living in Cambodia or abroad, belong to one unique Khmer family,” said Rainsy – who is currently on a tour in Australia – in a post to his Facebook page on Friday.

“Therefore, when considering the regular visits that CNRP leaders pay to thousands of Cambodian people living in the USA, France or Australia, there is no difference from their regular visits to the Cambodian people living for instance in Cambodia’s Battambang, Kampong Cham or Prey Veng provinces.”

A recent war of words between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the CNRP has brought into focus Cambodian communities living abroad, often the source of opposition complaints that the government’s border maps favour alleged Vietnamese encroachment.

CNRP lawmakers Um Sam An, a US citizen, and Real Camerin, an Australian citizen, are both in the US fundraising as they tout the border issue.

But the CNRP has distanced itself from its lawmakers’ statements about the border in the wake of a series of high-profile arrests and convictions, which included the August 15 arrest of Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour on charges of “treason” for posting what he claimed was a fake section of a 1979 border treaty with Vietnam online.

Sok Hour’s arrest did not stop opposition lawmaker Um Sam An from casting doubt on government border maps last week after he found a supposedly original United Nations map in the US Library of Congress.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy talks to Cambodian supporters at a function in Sydney on Saturday during part of an Australia visit with deputy leader Kem Sokha. Photo supplied
Hun Sen talks at the Peace Palace last week where he slammed Sam Rainsy for comments he had made to French media. Heng Chivoan

However, it does not appear Sam An has his own party’s backing.

Kem Sokha, the CNRP’s deputy president, yesterday became the latest to distance himself from the border issue, saying at a conference in Australia on Saturday morning that he did not approve of Um Sam An’s visit to the US.

Sokha also suggested that the ruling party was actively attempting to sow divisions among the CNRP’s overseas supporters.

“Now they have a plan to attract overseas people to leave the CNRP to reduce the CNRP’s support. But I don’t care,” he said.

“We do not care that they want to attract our forces – go ahead, provided that the competition is done peacefully. Through nonviolence and dignity, we believe the CNRP will win just the same.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan responded by saying that it was normal for any political party to try and “use its political platform to attract supporters”.

It’s no secret that the opposition’s coddling of Cambodians abroad is based on their financial support of the party, said Ou Virak, a political analyst and founder of the Future Forum think tank.

But the constant quest for donations has come at an institutional cost, Virak added.

“[Rainsy] doesn’t spend enough time in Cambodia or enough time actually leading the party,” he said. “That’s why the party seems to be all over the place.”

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann, however, strongly denied that overseas Cambodians’ concerns were being catered to at the expense of their compatriots in the mother country.

“A lot of Cambodians living abroad have told their relatives about what has been going on outside the country – about the development of a democratic country, about fair elections, income distribution, everything,” he said.

Sovann added that the CNRP could be run just as well with its senior leadership travelling to different locations abroad thanks to technology and on-the-ground staff.

MOST VIEWED

  • Wing Bank opens new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004

    Wing Bank celebrates first anniversary as commercial bank with launch of brand-new branch. One year since officially launching with a commercial banking licence, Wing Bank on March 14 launched a new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004. The launch was presided over by

  • Girl from Stung Meanchey dump now college grad living in Australia

    After finishing her foundational studies at Trinity College and earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne in 2022, Ron Sophy, a girl who once lived at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump and scavenged for things to sell, is now working at a private

  • Ministry using ChatGPT AI to ‘ease workload’; Khmer version planned

    The Digital Government Committee is planning to make a Khmer language version of popular artificial intelligence (AI) technology ChatGPT available to the public in the near future, following extensive testing. On March 9, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications revealed that it has been using the

  • Wat Phnom hornbills attract tourists, locals

    Thanks to the arrival of a friendly flock of great hornbills, Hour Rithy, a former aviculturist – or raiser of birds – in Kratie province turned Phnom Penh tuk tuk driver, has seen a partial return to his former profession. He has become something of a guide

  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to