Phnom Penh (FN), Nov. 13 – Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision on 10th November 2019 to relax the bail conditions for Kem Sokha, allowing him to leave his house, was a remarkable political development and was so attractive that some may avert their attention from Sam Rainsy’s arrival in Malaysia. The decision saw national and international public, as well as former CNRP’s supporters, questioning who is the “genuine” leader of the late CRNP, which was dissolved by Supreme Court’s decision dated 16th November 2017, after the court found the party had “conspired” with foreigners to topple Cambodia’s legitimate government through its “color revolution”? Is it Kem Sokha or Sam Rainsy? National and international public are eager to learn about the answer to this question, especially those pro-Kem Sokha and pro-Sam Rainsy groups – who seemed to be confused. Chao Chak Smok would not decide on it on their behalf, but wishes to raise some points for their consideration over the power struggles between the two split groups.

1) Kem Sokha was elected as President of the former CNRP in a party’s congress in March 2017, after Sam Rainsy had resigned from the President and membership of the party. Kem Sokha led the party until it was dissolved on 16th November 2017. By law, Kem Sokha is a lawful leader of the former CNRP. Sam Rainsy is merely an outsider who tried to stake a claim over the party’s leadership, following Kem Sokha’s arrest in a case of “conspiracy with foreigners.” Sam Rainsy has established a rebellious National Rescue Movement to seek support from the public, but it went beyond his expectation since Cambodian people and international community didn’t recognize but condemn it. After learning that his political popularity was shrinking, Sam Rainsy, conspired by Eng Chhay Eang, Mua Sokhua and a few colleagues, organized a so-called congress in the US in December 2018 and overtook the party’s leadership from Kem Sokha and claimed himself as the acting leader of the former CNRP. The self-appointment – which violated his own party’s statute – widely attracted criticisms, one of which was from Kem Sokha’s daughter, who accused Sam Rainsy and colleagues of staging a “party’s coup,” dismantling its own political force and violating its own party’s statute, as an ad-hoc was established to replace the dissolved CNRP. For pro-Kem Sokha group, Kem Sokha was still a lawful leader of the former CNRP and Sam Rainsy would have never been recognized. Even Kem Sokha, through his lawyer, reconfirmed his disagreement with the December congress, in which Sam Rainsy claimed himself the acting leader of the former opposition. Both the establishment of the National Rescue Movement and the self-appointment of Sam Rainsy as the party’s acting leader were seen as huge “flaws” in his political strategy.

2) International community and foreign diplomats in Cambodia have never raised about Sam Rainsy but Kem Sokha during their meetings with the Cambodia’s government. Some diplomats even raised that they would be happy if they didn’t have to raise about Sam Rainsy. Rhona Smith, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, has publicly condemned an attempt to topple the legitimate government through “unpeaceful” revolution, while the convicted self-claimed that he is a democrat and an advocate for the freedom but his actions deemed to turn away from democracy and human rights. A number of national and foreign journalists also raised that Sam Rainsy was too keen of “deceiving” and now becomes a politician who was “worthless” to raise about. The donor countries have also shunned raising about Sam Rainsy since his and his colleagues’ activities were largely against the laws. Later on, Sam Rainsy has urged a coup d’état against a lawful government and even insulted the revered His Majesty the King of Cambodia. He would have never earned support for those acts. In the latest development, his failure to return to Cambodia on 9th November as proclaimed “downgrades” his value and risks his credibility. Sam Rainsy has never meant to help Kem Sokha, but instead his activities further pushed Kem Sokha into dilemma – confessing that he was also one of the mastermind of the “color revolution,” like Kem Sokha, and the breaking apart of the former opposition’s support and youth in Cambodia and overseas through his establishment of overseas party’s branches being two examples.

3) Sam Rainsy himself may learn that he was gradually forgotten and lost popularity, compared to Kem Sokha. Following the court’s decision to relax Kem Sokha’s bail conditions, a number of foreign diplomats, including those from EU and the US, have requested to meet with Kem Sokha. These show that the international community accepted that Kem Sokha, not Sam Rainsy, was still a lawful leader of the former CNRP. Sam Rainsy has killed off the confidence of his local and overseas supporters, who had contained high hope that the convicted would be “courageous” to repatriate to Cambodia – an attempt which many saw as his excuse to overthrow the Cambodia’s government. The international community and civil societies would not support Sam Rainsy due to his unlawful acts. Hence, they would not bother with the traitor and the coup d’état mastermind.

So, who is Sam Rainsy when Kem Sokha was allowed to leave home and travel wherever he wishes to? Some pro-opposition analysts raised that Sam Rainsy-self-claimed position as the former CNRP’s leader was invalidated since 10th November 2019 at 10:00AM, when the court decided to relax Kem Sokha’s bail conditions. Kem Sokha has entertained foreign diplomats’ requests to meet in his name as the leader of the former opposition, so why does convicted Sam Rainsy still carry on using his acting leader of the former CNRP? For pro-Kem Sokha group, there is no acting leader of the late CNRP since the self-appointment violated the party’s statute, and Kem Sokha is still recognized widely by the international community and his activists as the “genuine” leader of the former opposition. Simultaneously, there is an insider’s movement for Sam Rainsy, who was supported by eunuchs Eng Chhay Eang and Mua Sokhua, to retreat from the former CNRP and to stop immediately any forms of “cheating,” using the name of the former CNRP and Kem Sokha – which, as a result, saw many of his activists charged by Cambodia’s courts while some others were on the run – since Sam Rainsy was not a member of the late CNRP.

By Chao Chak Smok
Phnom Penh, 13th November 2019