Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha has responded to Sam Rainsy’s allegations about the statement he issued on November 28 wherein he demanded that Rainsy cease and desist using his name and image for political purposes and linking him to activities he did not support.
In response to Sokha’s complaints, Rainsy wrote that they were “the result of intimidation by [Prime Minister] Hun Sen who is extremely afraid of the unity of the Khmer Democrats and who holds Kem Sokha as his hostage”.
Sokha, who still faces a charge of treason in court, took to Facebook once again with a new response on December 1.
“I do what I can do according to what’s possible under the circumstances and of my own free will. I do not take orders from anyone who threatens me and especially not regarding what I previously posted on my official page,” Sokha wrote.
Neither Sokha nor his personal assistant Chan Chen could be reached for comment on December 1.
However, Chen posted about Sokha’s activities in November on social media, saying Sokha brought donations of money and other items for the Kathen festival – the traditional offering of the saffron robe to monks – to pagodas in Takeo, Tbong Khmum and Battambang provinces.
According to Chen, Sokha also donated 10,000 masks to people in rural areas that month.
Chen’s post said Sokha also met with the Australian foreign minister Marise Payne as well as EU ambassador to Cambodia Carmen Moreno and US ambassador Patrick Murphy in the past month.
Sokha also posted copies of messages he sent to King Norodom Sihamoni congratulating him on the 69th anniversary of the nation’s independence and, separately, a message of condolences sent upon the death of the King’s half-brother Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Em Sovannara, a professor of political science and an analyst, told The Post on December 1 that Rainsy and Sokha had reached a crossroads.
Sovannara said although the CNRP has been dissolved since the end of 2017, its former followers remained a potential base for opposition politicians to draw support from.
He said that although Sokha was the dissolved party’s president, he does not have the same track record as Rainsy and has limited ability to mobilise supporters. Some people close to Sokha have actually left to form new parties of their own now as well, he added.
According to Sovannara, the political loyalty of most former CNRP supporters is to Rainsy because he was more active and has more grassroots structure than Sokha.
“This acrimonious separation with accusations about who left the party first or who has endured worse attacks on their reputation could have a serious negative impact among the rank and file supporters of the CNRP and result in a loss of trust for both [Rainsy and Sokha],” he said.
Sokha’s daughter Kem Monovitya said her father is entitled to his opinions and it was his right to put a stop to Rainsy exploiting his name and image further.
“The partnership was effectively over when [Rainsy] called on the party and people in Cambodia to abandon [Sokha] while he was imprisoned and [Rainsy] began to lead this deceitful campaign,” she tweeted on November 30.