A former lawmaker of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) called on his party members to remain in the country and fight.
Mao Monyvann told The Post on Sunday that CNRP leaders must remain in the country and continue to fight rather than fleeing abroad – a reference to the party’s acting president, Sam Rainsy, who fled to France to avoid facing a slew of charges for alleged criminal offences and a 20-month sentence for defamation and incitement to cause chaos.
He said support from the international community after the November 2017 ruling was welcome, but not the most crucial aspect of the opposition party’s struggle.
“In my opinion, when the CNRP was dissolved … when it [the government] arrested Kem Sokha, we needed to continue to struggle. In a democratic society, if we dare not face the country’s problems at home but we struggle abroad, I don’t think that represents success, even if the international community supports us."
“We are Cambodian citizens, we need to struggle for ourselves, face the problems ourselves. No one puts democracy on the pedestal for us,” he said.
Monyvann also blasted acting president of the CNRP Sam Rainsy, saying he was attempting to “split” the party and labelled his ascent to leader as a “party coup”. Citing party bylaws, which he believes have been violated by Sam Rainsy ’s nomination, he said he will not recognise him as the new CNRP leader.
“I support legal principles. When it’s illegal I won’t support it … I won’t participate in wrongdoing with you and be recorded in Cambodian history as participating in your wrong acts."
“We see all together that we have already split. We criticise each other, we insult each other on Facebook, it looks really bad for us and we should stop now,” he said.
Mao Monyvann said he has not decided yet whether to rejoin politics, but will remain aligned to Kem Sokha.
His comments came the same weekend Sam Rainsy warned supporters that they would “lose to Hun Sen’s tricks” if banned politicians complied with new legislation allowing for their return to politics.
In a CNRP public forum organised in the French capital, Paris, on Saturday with the participation of CNRP groups abroad, Sam Rainsy urged the party to unite, claiming that Prime Minister Hun Sen wanted them to “stay quiet as dead people”.
“They [CNRP officials] are asking us to work and resurrect the CNRP … people in Atlanta representing the CNRP around the world requested me, to lead the CNRP as Kem Sokha does not have freedom."
“Our party is at a deadlock and Hun Sen keeps persuading and threatening our members. We do not have a leader as they arrested ours. Like an army, if they arrest our commander, the soldiers will not be organised."
“Therefore, the soldiers need a new commander,” he said, claiming that his leadership was only “temporary” and Kem Sokha will allegedly regain control once he is free.
“We do not play the game that Hun Sen has designed to break us, trying to split Kem Sokha from Sam Rainsy, and Sam Rainsy from Kem Sokha. We must maintain the stance that Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha is the same person, if not, we will lose to Hun Sen’s tricks,” he said.
However, adding to the discussion on Saturday was Sokha’s daughter Kem Monovithya. The former CNRP deputy director-general of public affairs took to Facebook to hit out at “opportunists”, in a reference seemingly directed at Sam Rainsy.
“The open abuse and vengeance will be defeated by Sokha’s good deeds,” Monovithya wrote.