Rainsy’s ex-ad­viser urges vot­ing

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Ben Sokhean

KONG Korm, one of the court­dis­solved Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party’s top ad­vis­ers, on Thursday crit­i­cised his for­mer col­league Sam Rainsy for call­ing on vot­ers to boy­cott the July 29 na­tional elec­tions. He said the peo­ple should hon­our the King and head to the polls.

Korm, who has been banned from po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties for five years by the court, af­ter the Cam­bo­dian Na­tional Res­cue Party (CNRP) was dis­solved, has a colour­ful his­tory in the Kingdom’s po­lit­i­cal arena.

Serv­ing as a se­nior of­fi­cer and for­eign min­is­ter for the Cam­bo­dian Peo­ple’s Party (CPP) in the 1980s be­fore join­ing the op­po­si­tion in the 1990s, he is the fa­ther of Kong Monika, pres­i­dent of the Kh­mer Will Party (KWP).

The party, founded by Korm’s youngest son in April, was in the spot­light this week af­ter it said 60 per­cent of the can­di­dates it was field­ing in the elec­tions were for­mer mem­bers of the CNRP.

Sev­enty-seven-year-old Korm served as act­ing pres­i­dent of the Sam Rainsy Party be­fore it joined forces with Kem Sokha’s Hu­man Rights Party to form the CNRP, which was, un­til its dis­so­lu­tion, said to be the only vi­able op­po­si­tion to Hun Sen’s rul­ing CPP.

How­ever, Korm said he doesn’t have any of­fi­cial role in the KWP and that he is just the “elder in the fam­ily” who gives ad­vice to his chil­dren, all of whom are ca­reer politi­cians.

From his home in the cap­i­tal, he mocked the call for vot­ers to stay home on bal­lot day and said the boy­cott cam­paign was not, as many claimed on­line, “sleep home, win cleanly”, but rather, “sleep home, CPP win cleanly”.

“If we sleep, the CPP wins pretty well,” he said.

Korm re­ferred to Rainsy as “the king of fire­crack­ers” and said any fight go­ing on out­side the coun­try’s bor­ders should be seen as “sec­ondary”, and that only bat­tles within the Kingdom would bring pos­i­tive re­sults.

“Sam Rainsy is the king of fire­crack­ers, from one elec­tion pe­riod to an­other . . . He never stays in the coun­try. ”

Point­ing to the strong num­bers the Sam Rainsy Party put up in the 1998 na­tional elec­tions, and the num­ber of votes the Hu­man Right’s Party re­ceived in 2008, Korm is op­ti­mistic for what the KWP can de­liver this year.

“There­fore, if the KWP gets more than three seats, it beats the Hu­man Rights Party which first got only three seats. And if the KWP gets over 15 seats, it beats the Sam Rainsy Party which first got only 15 seats. We need to think like this,” he said.

Asked why he was both­ered about na­tional pol­i­tics when he could be en­joy­ing his re­tire­ment, Korm said: “We should not keep a dic­ta­tor . . . We need to have a new start.”

He also thanked Ja­pan for as­sist­ing in the elec­tion process, but warned against mak­ing any pre­ma­ture judg­ments, say­ing that elec­tions are never free or fair.

Ex-CNRP law­maker Mao Mony­van said he does not sup­port any move to cre­ate new par­ties which he called a be­trayal of the peo­ple’s will. “We should unite. It is not right to act against the peo­ple’s will.”

He con­tin­ued that no new party can re­place the for­mer CNRP, de­spite the KWP hav­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials to run for po­si­tions as law­mak­ers.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Lao Mong Hay said: “One side’s ap­peal tells peo­ple to go and vote, while the other side tells the peo­ple not to.

“[Both sides] are now turn­ing the com­ing elec­tion into a plebiscite, not a na­tional assem­bly elec­tion. This plebiscite en­gages the fate of the monar­chy and that of the regime. A low turnout will mean less pop­u­lar sup­port for both of them.”

SUPPLIED

For­mer Sam Rainsy Party Pres­i­dent Kong Korm speaks at a cer­e­mony mark­ing the 1997 fac­tional fight­ing in Ph­nom Penh last July.

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