Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Sam Rainsy has been forced to live in exile since 2015 in the face of questionable defamation charges made against him as part of Prime Minister Hun Sen's harsh crackdown on the opposition ahead of July 2018 elections. He spoke with RFA Khmer Service on Wednesday after the country’s Supreme Court, packed with ruling party loyalists, disbanded the CNRP.
RFA: What is your reaction to the dissolution of the CNRP?
Sam Rainsy: I’m very concerned with the fact that when the CNRP is dissolved the whole nation is destroyed. I think the ruling party should change its name to the National Destruction Party now. The CNRP remains a legitimate opposition party. Our party is also internationally recognized. All elected officials of the CNRP including the 55 lawmakers and 5007 commune councils shall enjoy their legitimacy for they are elected by the will of the people. No one can deprive them of their legitimate positions. What the government is doing is silly and nonsensical. They go very low, we have to go high. We shall continue our mission to rescue our nation. We cannot let our people getting mistreated like this.
RFA: What is the future of the opposition?
Sam Rainsy: The CNRP is dissolved only on the paper. The whole thing has been set up by the savage regime of Hun Sen. Dissolving the CNRP is like getting off more than three million people who voted for the CNRP. We shall continue our mission. We have three future steps to take. First, we are educating our people that the CNRP continues to exist legitimately. All elected officials of the CNRP shall continue their work. Second, we continue to lobby with international community to pressure and sanctions on Hun Sen’s government to stop persecuting the opposition and restore a free and fair election. The sanctions are meant to be put on the government senior officials who are involved in the serious violation on human rights and democracy in Cambodia. Third, we are working to endure a political situation that is guaranteed by the international community. We cannot trust the cunning Hun Sen.
RFA: What do you think warrants international community immediate help?
Sam Rainsy: Hun Sen has crossed the red line. The entire world is very concerned and condemning his government. Hun Sen has gravely violated the Paris Peace Accords by dissolving the CNRP, arresting opposition members and restricting freedom of speech and assembly. I am certain that the world will not tolerate him and his regime. Hun Sen is not a strongman. He is a weak and desperate man.
RFA: Hun Sen addressed US President Donald Trump in the ASEAN summit by denouncing you for your comments about the President. He praised President Trump and told him about his personal matters. Hun Sen also told Present Trump that he was one among very few people in Cambodia who believed that he would be elected as the President of the United States. What do you think about such remarks?
Sam Rainsy: Hun Sen is very childish. How on earth a country leader would talk about his personal matters in an official summit like this? A leader would need to talk about national interests in such an international meeting. Hun Sen is so dumb. It was embarrassing that he did that. He didn’t only humiliate himself. He humiliated the whole nation in the eyes of the world. It’s very embarrassing for Cambodians to have such a Prime Minister like him.
Translated by Nareth Muong.