Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chanrath: Smearing mindset resembles Khmer Rouge era

Chanrath: Smearing mindset resembles Khmer Rouge era

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ou Chanrath, former CNRP lawmaker who was recently granted political rehabilitation. Hong Menea

Chanrath: Smearing mindset resembles Khmer Rouge era

Ou Chanrath has said that the hostile welcome granted him by his fellow Cambodians recently in South Korea showed that the hearts of supposedly democratic people remain closed and that the mindset of smearing one another resembled that of the Khmer Rouge era.

Last week Chanrath, a former member of the National Assembly for Takeo province, and Chiv Cata, another former opposition parliamentarian, travelled to a pro-democracy gathering in South Korea at the invitation of the Asian Human Rights Peace Forum.

Chanrath and Cata are former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmakers. They were two of the 118 senior CNRP officials banned from all political activity for five years following the dissolution of the party by the Supreme Court in November 2017.

Ou Chanrath was recently granted political rehabilitation and Cata has submitted a similar request.

After arriving in South Korea, Chanrath decided not to attend the forum or the candlelight demonstrations held by CNRP supporters because he said he was not welcomed by CNRP deputy president Mu Sochua or party supporters, and they went as far as using insulting words against him.

“It was beyond my expectations and it was a good experience for me – to see that the pro-democratic camp is not really pro-democracy.

“A lot of words were used, but their hearts are yet to open as democratic people – the same goes for the leadership.

“There was a chorus from a small number of [Cambodian] workers in [South Korea] who are activists – but knowledge is still at a low level. There were some uneducated words used against me,” Chanrath told The Post on Wednesday.

‘Not truly pro-democratic’

In an interview with Radio Free Asia on April 19, Sochua said she did not welcome Chanrath because he was not truly pro-democratic.

“Pro-democratic people have never, under any circumstances, walked away from pro-democratic people who are suffering like our president Kem Sokha.

“We cannot ask to walk out for a moment to see the state outside. Pro-democratic people have to stick together, especially when democracy is falling apart as it is today,” she said.

Chanrath said Sochua’s voice was broadcast on the bus he was boarding, and participants slow hand-clapped and made it clear he was not welcome.

“It is pitiful for the followers who have been led astray, unable to open their hearts wide to acquire knowledge.

“They are just following the crowd. The leader says something, they do it. In the evening I saw that [CNRP] acting president Sam Rainsy feels no shame. A leader should not behave like an activist,” Chanrath said.

He said the experience has made him clearly understand the mentality of Cambodian society, and how such a mindset should be changed.

“If Cambodians still have such a mindset, and still smear each other, it is no different from the Khmer Rouge era.

“[The Khmer Rouge] promoted those who had little knowledge, with a low level of culture, and became more aggressive in their management.

“And then came the killings. Such a culture should be avoided and, as pro-democratic people, they need to change their thinking.

“Buddhists should not tolerate this. The leaders especially should learn from these lessons,” Chanrath said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the acts committed against Chanrath did not benefit opposition supporters. On the contrary, he said, it had undermined the credibility of what they claimed to be democratic.

“To become a true democracy, people must be patient, have open minds and respect the rights and freedom of others to participate,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this