Khmer News in En

Corruption, Crime Undercut Cambodian, Lao Forest Protection Efforts-Report

The campaign to save Asia’s dwindling stock of Siamese rosewood trees by giving the species enhanced international protection has been tripped up by corruption and criminal activity in Laos and Cambodia, according to a new report issued Friday.

According to the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), exports of the wood by Laos and Cambodia have more than outstripped the largest known wild stock of the trees since the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) recognized the trees’ plight.

“Laos and Cambodia have systemically disregarded the most basic legal safeguards of U.N. trade rules for endangered species in ways that seriously undermine the credibility of CITES, while edging Siamese rosewood ever closer to extinction,” said EIA Senior Forest Campaigner Jago Wadley.

“CITES intervention is urgently required.”

Signed over 40 years ago, CITES regulates or bans international trade in more than 30,000 animal and plant species. EIA wants CITES to ban trade in Siamese rosewood from Cambodia and Laos, a move that would make it illegal for the 181 signatories to the treaty to import the wood from those countries.

In March 2013, CITES placed Siamese rosewood on its Appendix II, meaning it is legal for CITES signatories to buy and sell the wood, but the species could face extinction unless trade is closely controlled.

Red alert on rosewood

Laos and Cambodia are CITES signatories, but EIA says they have failed to take the steps necessary under CITES to prevent over-exploitation of the species such as making an inventory of the trees or properly controlling permits to harvest the trees.

The EIA report “Red Alert: How fraudulent Siamese rosewood exports from Laos and Cambodia are undermining CITES protection,” covers the mid-2013 – December 2014 time period, the most recent data available.

The EIA found that Cambodia has either incorrectly or illegitimately issued CITES export permits for most of the 12,000 square meters of Siamese rosewood exported between June 2013 and December 2014.

Laos exported 63,500 square meters of Siamese rosewood in 2013 and 2014, the EIA said. That is more than the entire known remaining wild stock of the trees in Thailand, where only 80,000 to 100,000 Siamese rosewood trees remain in natural stands in the country as of 2011, amounting to about 63,500 square meters of harvestable timber.

Although some rosewood may be legally harvested in Laos from forest conversion projects such as dam building, the infrastructure projects have consistently been used to launder illegally logged timber.

In a further threat to stocks of rosewood, Laotian villagers allege that the state-owned electricity provider Electricite du Laos routinely demands illegally logged Siamese rosewood as payment for hooking up villagers to the national grid.

State-sponsored crime

In March 2014, a rosewood trader in China offered to sell EIA undercover investigators numerous export permits issued by Laos’ CITES Management Authority, covering thousands of cubic meters of rosewood logs. The permits could be applied to any wood from anywhere and then exported into China where rosewood is prized for use in copies of traditional furniture.

“All the indicators betray a governance culture where the rule of law is replaced by forms of state-sponsored crime in key ministries which influence the implementation of UN treaties such as CITES,” Wadley said.

In Phnom Penh, Ministry of Environment spokesman Sao Sopheap rejected the EIA report, saying Cambodia has actively worked to curtail illegal logging by setting up a task force and creating protected zones in forests.

“The government has reduced the duration of economic land concession from 90 years to 50 years,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service.

RFA was unable to reach the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, the agency directly responsible for implementing CITES commitments.

The Lao government, which has unveiled a new package of logging and timber export bans, had no immediate comment on Friday’s report.

Additional reporting and translation by San Sel and Yanny Hin for RFA’s Khmer Service.

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Cambodia's Culture of No Dialogue

There is little hope that a “culture of dialogue” will return to Cambodia anytime soon as the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) appears unwilling to open discussions with its rivals as long as the government’s various cases against opposition party officials are wending their way through the courts.

CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan told RFA listeners during a June 21 call-in show that the talks will remain in limbo until the court cases are settled.

“If the cases of those offenders is over, then we will look into the possibility of negotiations,” he said. “But it has to be done under a condition that does not include negotiations for the release of the people in jail.”

The government is pursuing a number of cases against high-profile opposition party officials and rights workers, drawing widespread condemnation from the international human rights community as well as foreign aid donors, excluding China.

Among those cases is the push by Hun Sen’s government and the ruling CPP to bring Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha before the courts for questioning regarding his alleged affair with a young hairdresser.

That case has seen the arrest of four employees of the human rights group ADHOC and a member of the National Election Commission (NEC), while an arrest warrant was also issued for a U.N. worker. Heavily armed police also attempted to arrest Kem Sokha at CNRP headquarters for failing to appear in court in a pair of cases related to the alleged affair

The case of the Kem Sokha Five is not the only one that is tied up in the Cambodian judicial system. About a dozen opposition party members are imprisoned in Prey Sar including Hong Sok Hour, a member of the senate from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, which merged with the Human Rights Party to form the CNRP.

Police arrested Hong Sok Hour in 2015 after he posted comments on social media that claimed an article in the 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Treaty was meant to dismantle, rather than define, the border between the two countries.

‘It’s politics, and everyone knows it.’

On Wednesday Cambodia’s supreme court denied Hong Sok Hour’s appeal of a lower court decision denying bail.

“No surprise,” he told reporters after the hearing. “It is politics, and everyone knows it.”

When asked if there is a “political solution,” he answered: “Not yet known.”

CNRP President Sam Rainsy has been staying in France or traveling since an arrest warrant was issued for him in November over a 2008 defamation case and he was removed from his office and stripped of his parliamentary immunity. After Sam Rainsy left the country, the CNRP named Kem Sokha its acting president.

The litany of cases, and CPP insistence that they run their course before the party negotiates with the CNRP, makes it unlikely that the two sides will have serious talks anytime soon.

“If there are any changes before the court’s decision, it seems that the CPP will lose face, or that it is proof that what has happened was certainly politically motivated,” said independent analyst Meas Ny. “I think that sometimes the CPP wants to take its time.”

CNRP spokesperson Yim Sovanna told RFA on Wednesday there has been no response from the CPP regarding any resumption of “the culture of dialogue.”

“I have not received any word from the other party,” he said.

“Culture of dialogue” was the tag given to the uneasy political truce Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy forged in the aftermath of 2014’s bloody post-election season and a tense 10-month political standoff.

Thumbprint trouble

There are other indications that the government and the CPP have little interest in restarting talks as RFA’s Khmer Service has learned that Cambodian authorities are preparing to seek legal action against opposition party officials who they accuse of fraudulently collecting thumbprints on petitions asking King Norodom Sihamoni to intervene in the nation’s political upheaval.

Ministry of Interior spokesman General Khieu Sopheak told reporters that investigators have thoroughly reviewed the 17,000 thumbprints collected by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on petitions seeking the king’s assistance. Thumbprints often take the place of signatures in Cambodia.

The government claims that 88 thumbprints on the petitions came from the same individual, that some thumbprints lacked corresponding names, and that the thumbprints did not come from all 25 of the nation’s provinces.

Khieu Sopheak said the government is looking into charges related to the 88 thumbprints that lacked a corresponding identity, and charges related to presenting fraudulent documents to the king.

He singled out CNRP lawmaker Nhem Ponharith, who is also the current party spokesman, saying that he now faces government scrutiny for leading the group that presented the petition to the king.

“Nhem Ponharith presented the king with the fake thumbprints. He will not go unpunished,” he said. “I will have to leave it up to the court to decide on this.”

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Yanny Hin and Nareth Muong. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

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A Lao Deckhand Sends His Wife an SOS, Then Disappears From a Thai Fishing Boat

Days before Kong Maharath disappeared from a Thai fishing boat without a trace, the deckhand told his family that someone was trying to kill him, RFA’s Lao Service has learned.

Just as he had many times before, the 38-year-old native of the Lao province of Khammuane shipped out on a fishing boat from the Thai port of Phetchaburi, but not long after setting sail on May 17 he reported trouble in a cell phone call to his wife Charipha Phetmany.

“He was working on the boat on May 28 when he called and told me that someone would kill him, and then he asked me to inform police and military to help him,” Charipha told RFA.  “On the night of May 29, the owner told me my husband had disappeared.”

Charipha told RFA she met with a representative of the Nor Douangdy 11 Company which owns the boat on June 30, where the owner told her he would take responsibility, but she added that the owner also “asked me not to inform the police because if the police know I will have to pay them.”

While Charipha is Thai, her husband has lived legally in Thailand since 2006, and has never been in trouble, she said.

An investigation

Kong’s disappearance has sparked an investigation as Thai police and military officers in Phetchaburi province are looking into the disappearance, a police official told RFA.

“Now the police and soldiers are investigating the cause of his death,” a police officer at Bah Leam district police station told RFA, but authorities declined to discuss the case. Officials with the Thai and Lao government also declined to talk about the incident.

Working on a Thai fishing boat is notoriously dangerous. Not only is ocean fishing a hazardous occupation in itself, but the Thai fleet is known for abusing workers, and slave laborers are often used to fill out boat crews.

The Thai government estimates that 80 percent of the 145,000 working in its fishing industry are migrant workers, mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.

According to United Nations estimates, the Thai fishing fleet consistently faces a shortage of about 50,000 mariners. The shortfall is filled primarily with migrant workers desperate for a job and people forced to work on the boats against their will.

In the Thai fleet murder is apparently a common occurrence, as the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking found that nearly 60 percent of trafficked migrants interviewed aboard Thai fishing vessels reported witnessing the murder of a fellow worker.

Unusual moves

While authorities aren’t hazarding a guess as to the cause of Kong’s disappearance, officials with the Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN) thinks it’s more than an accident.

The Thai-based LPN was founded to address discrimination against migrant workers in Thailand and to combat human trafficking. NPF has been active in labor issues involving the Thai fishing fleet.

“Kong’s relatives, Lao embassy officials, and a foundation representative met the boat owner on June 15, but he disavowed any responsibility saying only that Kong Maharath had disappeared from the boat,” Samak Thapthany, an LPN official, told RFA.

The actions of the boat captain are also raising questions, as the usual procedure if a man is lost is to contact authorities while the vessel is still at sea, Samak explained.

“The boat was taken to a port and then the owner informed Kong’s wife afterwards, which is not right,” he said. “The usual practice, if someone disappears on the boat, is that the boat isn’t allowed in port until there is an investigation of the cause.”

Samak told RFA that the family gave the Lao government the right to sue the boat owner, and that one of Kong’s relatives told the foundation the boat’s owner offered $600 to the family as compensation for Kong’s death. When the family turned that down, the offer jumped to $8,600, Samak said.

“The family refused to accept the money,” Samak told RFA. “Kong’s sister returned to Laos to collect all the necessary papers and documents to submit to the Lao embassy for the court filing, but so far the Lao embassy official handling this case would not give us any details, stating that it might affect the case.”

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

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Cambodia National Rescue Party Looks For European Help

Cambodia’s opposition party wants the European Union’s help in resolving the political crisis that is gripping the nation as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government continues to apply pressure to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, senior CNRP officials told RFA’s Khmer Service.

While the European Union’s ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, visited CNRP acting president Kem Sokha at the party’s headquarters on Friday, CNRP officials declined to tell RFA what they talked about.

CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham told RFA the ambassador met with Kem Sokha for a simple talk, but he didn’t provide details.

“I have observed that the European Union wants to help resolve the crisis,” he said. “That is why they visited us. We all know about the EU’s stand, but we don’t know yet how will they resolve this.”

The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) told RFA that Cambodia doesn’t have any political crisis, repeating the government’s contention that the CNRP is having trouble because its members broke the law.

“It is the ambassador’s right to visit anyone,” he said.

Hun Sen’s government and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have been backing a push in Cambodia’s courts to bring CNRP leader Kem Sokha in for questioning regarding his alleged affair with a young hairdresser.

The case has seen the arrest of four employees of the human rights group ADHOC and a member of the National Election Commission (NEC), while an arrest warrant was also issued for a U.N. worker. Heavily armed police also attempted to arrest Kem Sokha at CNRP headquarters for failing to appear in court in a pair of cases related to the alleged affair.

Petition problems persist

Meanwhile, CNRP activists in Pursat province say they are being persecuted and threatened when they attempt to collect villagers’ thumbprints for petitions seeking King Norodom Sihamoni’s intervention in the situation.

Thumbprints serve as signatures in Cambodia.

CNRP Provincial Director Yann Seng Huot said the 19 activists were summoned to local police headquarters where authorities pressured them to stop collecting thumbprints for the petitions.

“Our activists didn’t cause any security issues or disturb social order. We are collecting thumbprints from villagers voluntarily,” he said. “Authorities shouldn’t discriminate against us.”

Provincial Deputy Police Chief Penn Tung said his officers didn’t threaten any activists or confiscate any thumbprinted documents. He told RFA that the activists have the right to collect thumbprints, but that he had summoned them to the police station because villagers complained about the petition drive.

“Villagers said activists claimed they collected villager’s thumbprints to demand the government fight inflation, but their thumbprints were being used for a different purpose,” he said.

Also on Friday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court questioned jailed opposition senator Hong Sok Hour in his case as the investigating judge wanted to find out if there are more suspects and more evidence in that case.

Hong Sok Hour was arrested in 2015 for criticizing on Facebook the treaty demarking the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Reported by Vuthy Tha and Sopheak Chin for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

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Vietnamese-Americans Urge U.S. to Step Up Inspections of Fish Imports From Vietnam

While the Vietnam government drags it feet on addressing an environmental disaster in which tens of thousands of dead fish washed ashore in the country’s central coastal provinces, other actors are taking steps to limit the damage.

At least 100 tons of dead fish began washing ashore in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue provinces in early April apparently killed by industrial effluents.

The cause of the catastrophe remains unknown, although it is widely believed that sewage-pipe runoff from a huge steel plant run by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Corporation of Taiwan, poisoned the fish.

The company has denied responsibility.

A group of Vietnamese-American activists in California has now sent a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging it to thoroughly test and inspect all seafood and fish products imported from Vietnam.

Do Thanh Cong, a rights activist who signed the petition, also sent letters to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and to congressmen in California.

“We have to understand that HHS is the main agency [dealing with this matter], while the FDA is just an auxiliary,” Cong told RFA’s Vietnamese Service, adding that the group has also launched an online petition.

So far, the group has received responses from the FDA, which said it is looking into the matter, and Burwell’s office.

When asked about the financial consequences that Vietnamese fishermen will face if they cannot export fish to the U.S., Cong pointed out that Vietnamese are still buying and exporting fish and other marine products, even though they have been poisoned.

“So who is the victim here?” he said. “The direct victims are people inside the country, and we are the indirect victims—millions of overseas Vietnamese who consume such products.’

‘Products that will harm us’

Fishermen from Vietnam’s central region have not been able to fish offshore for several weeks, and local merchants complain that they have not yet received promised support from the government. Security forces have also arrested Vietnamese activists who staged public protests, including one in Hanoi.

The government has provided each family affected by the environmental disaster with 22 kilograms (49 pounds) of rice, but still has not informed them of the cause of the fish deaths.

“Knowing about the problem, can we still let Hanoi export contaminated products that will harm us?” Cong said. “We have to take care of our health first, and then address the problems that fishermen over there are facing.”

But Dang Kim Son, the former director-general of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told RFA that the situation isn’t that serious.

“If we [stop fish exports from Vietnam], the first victims will be our own fishermen, especially those who have invested a lot in long trips faraway by sea,” he said. “In fact, the pollution has not spread any farther than the currents near the coast.”

Taiwan’s lawmakers call for action

The Vietnamese government has remained tight-lipped about incident, saying only that it will announce the cause of the mass fish kill sometime this month and is preparing a report to submit to lawmakers when they meet in July.

But Taiwanese lawmakers urged the government on Thursday to investigate Formosa’s possible role in the environmental disaster, Agence-France Presse reported.

They fear the incident could jeopardize new President Tsai Ing-wen’s Southbound Policy, which promotes business and investment ties in Southeast Asia to wean Taiwan off its economic reliance on China, the report said.

Formosa has been involved in other pollution incidents in its home country, in the U.S., and in Cambodia.

Taiwan has offered to help the Vietnamese government investigate the incident, but the communist nation refused, the AFP report said.

On Wednesday, Formosa postponed the June 25 operational start date for a furnace at its steel complex in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh province, with no future date set, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.

The delay came after Taiwanese media reported that Vietnamese authorities have demanded that Formosa pay U.S. $70 million it owes in taxes. The media also reported that Vietnamese authorities needed more time to process an application the company had submitted to begin production at the steel mill.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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Interview: Cambodia's Sam Rainsy on Talks with Hun Sen: 'Everything has to have a starting point.'

Cambodia has been in the grips of a political crisis for months as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has pursued an investigation into an alleged affair between Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) deputy leader Kem Sokha and a young hairdresser. The investigation has led to the arrest of four human rights workers and an election commission official who are accused of bribery or accessory to bribery charges for attempting to keep the woman quiet, and it has also seen heavily-armed police attempt to arrest Kem Sokha at the CNRP’s headquarters.

While that is the most high-profile case, Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have also pursued other cases against opposition lawmakers. Opposition party Senator Um Sam An was charged with two criminal offenses over his accusations that the government conceded land to Vietnam along its border. The government is also holding more than two-dozen other opposition party officials on various charges, including Senator Hong Sok Hour and CNRP media director Meach Sovannara.

Cambodia National Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy went into self-imposed exile following his removal from parliament in November 2015 by the CPP because of a warrant issued for his arrest in an old defamation case. Most analysts say the campaign against the CNRP is designed to intimidate and weaken the party before elections due in 2017and 2018. In a live interview on June 15 in the RFA studio in Washington, DC. Sam Rainsy discussed the situation in Cambodia with RFA Khmer Service journalist Vuthy Huot.

RFA: The situation in these past few days seemed to hold some positive signs for the CNRP. The international community, including the U.N., European Union and the United States, seemed to back the CNRP. How much of this is the result of the diplomatic efforts by you and the CNRP?

Sam Rainsy:  People are finally getting a clear understanding of the political situation in Cambodia. The world has learnt that the situation in Cambodia has reached a most dangerous stage due to the strategy of the dictatorship of Cambodia.

The government used intimidation, threats, violence and the court system, under the control of the CPP, to put pressure on CNRP members or on the members of the civil society who were just speaking the truth and who protected and provided justice to the victims, so it is not hard for the world to see it.

RFA: I can understand how international recognition is helpful and it puts pressure on Cambodia’s rulers, but I’m not sure how much that moves Prime Minister Hun Sen. He recently said discussions about the detention of CNRP officials and civil society workers is off limits in any negotiations to end the crisis. What does this mean for “the culture of dialog?”

Sam Rainsy: I want to emphasize that I always value and hail the culture of dialogue. The culture of dialogue is not just between two individuals or two parties, but it is for all parties so the Khmer people of all political stripes can move into the future.

That said, the culture of dialogue in Cambodia is still very new and there are difficulties, but we have to have trust that the culture of dialogue will remain alive and replace the culture of violence.  We have experienced only the culture of violence, the culture of destroying each other. We should give up this culture and grasp the culture of dialogue so that the Khmer people can experience peace, to ensure our country’s stability and real democracy.

RFA: From the outside, Cambodia looks like it’s in trouble?

Sam Rainsy: Since the coup d’ etat in 1997, Cambodia’s crisis is currently at a stage that could lead the country over the edge to disaster if we do not solve it peacefully.  The CNRP is ready to start discussions with mutual respect. We did not put conditions regarding date, time, venue, or topic on the discussion.  The topic we need to select is the one that is relevant and reflects the current tense situation.  Now let’s ask the people, what are their biggest concerns and sufferings? We have to put these issues on the table for discussion.

RFA: So, will you drop the insistence on conditions before there is negotiation?

Sam Rainsy:  There are no longer any conditions.  Everything has to have a starting point, but it has to lead to topics that reflect the people’s concerns.

RFA: Hun Sen wants the CNRP to stop boycotting the national assembly. Do you plan on returning to the parliament any time soon?

Sam Rainsy: The CNRP is not quarreling, but is a victim of successive problems created by those who keep drumming up allegations and accusations against the CNRP.  Before returning to the National Assembly, we want to see lawmakers’ immunity fully respected and protected as it is laid out in the constitution.

Currently, the national assembly is not working properly because it is now going back to the situation before the Paris Peace Accords. When there was only one dominant party. It’s even worse than that, because it is only one man who causes all the troubles on his own free will.

We are not going to join this game. We want to have a real multi-party government with democratic principles. We want the situation to go back to normal as it was about six months or a year ago before we return to our National Assembly duty.

RFA: Does that mean you want to have a negotiation process in place before the CNRP returns to parliament?

Sam Rainsy: Per our experience, unless there is a package solution we must not accept partial or temporary solutions. They release some people and later on, they arrest this or that person…We need an official declaration of a principle that stops using the court system to put pressure on people and creates an intimidating environment that would affect the upcoming election process.

RFA: Did the culture of dialog lead you to write a letter regarding the published allegations on Hun Sen —  Facebook posts saying one of his sons is the child of his wife and a former Vietnamese leader?  Have you received any response from the CPP or from the prime minister regarding your letter?

Sam Rainsy: I regret and I denounced the allegations and accusations against Mr. Kem Sokha who is deputy head and currently acting head of CNRP. Because those allegations and accusations are a personal issue that is of no use. It’s a petty thing that is just diverting people’s attention from the vital issues of the nation.

Since I feel that way about him, I also feel regret and denounce those who create the same problem for others. That is why I wrote that letter expressing regret regarding the accusation against Prime Minister Hun Sen.

RFA: Have you gotten a response?

Sam Rainsy:  I did not write the letter because I expected a response. I wrote it to affirm the morality of the CNRP, its leaders and its members, who have maintained a noble dignity. We did not make any allegations and accusations on a personal issue that would lead to humiliation and defamation against others, stain their dignity or cause them pain.

RFA:  But have you received any response?

Sam Rainsy:  I am now in Washington D.C., and I have not received any information on the response from Mr. Hun Sen, yet.

RFA:  Since the scandal issue broke, the CNRP has declared that it will stay silent, not quarrel or respond. That all its efforts and focus is on preparing for the upcoming commune elections. But this is the state of play: The CNRP leader is still in exile; the acting head is in self-detention within the party’s headquarters; and it looks like all CNRP members, lawmakers, and supporters in the country have gathered around the headquarters in Phnom Penh.

It looks like the focus on the election has been postponed.  How you are going to deal with the situation?

Sam Rainsy: The situation is not at a standstill, but actually moving forward with positive prospects for the CNRP.  We can see, at the grassroots level in 25 provinces and cities across the country, including the capital city of Phnom Penh, that the threats and intimidation are not scaring anyone off. Instead people are stronger and more supportive of the CNRP.

They continue encouraging CNRP leaders by coming to the party headquarters with tens of thousands of petitions and staying for days regardless of all the difficulties. People inside and outside the country have provided financial support to buy food and water, while others cook meals for those who stay at the party headquarters. It is a good sign for the CNRP as well as for its plan for the upcoming elections in 2017.  And those who have caused the problems in the hope to weakening the CNRP, we have proved them wrong.  We have become stronger than ever.

RFA: When will you return to Cambodia?

Sam Rainsy:  I will go back before the election date. Even if for just a short period of time prior the election. Even a short stay would be sufficient. In 2013, they created so many troubles for me. I returned to Cambodia less than 2-3 weeks before the last election date and it was enough time. There were people showing their strong support before my return. This time, the people’s will and support are even stronger than before, and we will stick to our vital goal that is to have peaceful change on the path of democracy in the country.

Translated by Yanny Hin.

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