News

    Exiled Cambodian Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy Seeks Foreign Help

    Exiled Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy is in the United States, meeting with political leaders and campaigning to get Western donor nations to help him return to parliament.

    In an exclusive VOA interview, he says Cambodian authorities are trying to silence the political opposition.

    The former finance minister fled his native country last Thursday, after he and two opposition party leaders were stripped of immunity from prosecution, following a vote in the National Assembly.

    The vote means Sam Rainsy can be prosecuted for defamation by his political rival, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

    The United Nations special representative for human rights in Cambodia is urging the National Assembly to restore parliamentary immunity to the three opposition members.

    Sam Rainsy says his quest for foreign support could be effective because Cambodia depends heavily on international assistance. He says the government needs international assistance for its very survival.

    The following is the text of the interview:

    VOA: Sir, welcome to VOA. I'm delighted you could be here today.

    The U.N. Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia is calling on the National Assembly to restore your parliamentary immunity and the parliamentary immunity of two of your colleagues. Are you encouraged by this?

    Mr. Rainsy: Yes, very much. I'm very much encouraged by the reaction from the U.N. Representative but also from U.S. senators and from the State Department. I'm encouraged to see that people care about what is happening in Cambodia.

    VOA: Now, statements from organizations outside the country, the United Nations, the United States, other places, what practical impact does that have on politics within Cambodia? What is likely to happen?

    Mr. Rainsy: It will have an impact, because Cambodia depends heavily on international assistance. And the Cambodian Government needs international assistance for its very survival.

    VOA: What are you going to do? What's your next step as you try to rejoin Cambodia's political life?

    Mr. Rainsy: I will be asking for solidarity from members of parliaments around the world. Because members of parliament have the right and the duty to speak out and to speak up to defend the interests of their constituents. And in the present circumstances, the authorities in Cambodia is just trying to silence members of parliament from the opposition party.

    VOA: Have you met with, or do you expect to meet with, members of the U.S. Congress or the U.S. Senate here today or this week?

    Mr. Rainsy: Yes, I have been meeting with senators and members of the House. For the next few days, I will have the honor to meet other members of the Congress.

    VOA: And earlier you said you were going to take your campaign, your struggle, your however you want to characterize it, from here to where?

    Mr. Rainsy: From Washington, D.C. to Europe, to Brussels, to Berlin, to London, and, later on, maybe to Tokyo and to Canberra.

    VOA: Are we going to see a functional democratic Cambodia in our lifetime?

    Mr. Rainsy: Yes. We have to fight for it.

    VOA: What brings you here to VOA today? Why did you come here?

    Mr. Rainsy: I have the honor to speak to Cambodian listeners in Cambodia, because VOA is the most popular radio station in Cambodia. People rely [on it] for objective and balanced information from VOA.

    VOA: Hun Sen's action, what do you think that says about his democratic credentials? What does that do to his reputation?

    Mr. Rainsy: I think Cambodia has suffered a setback. Democracy is now in a difficult situation.

    VOA: What does this problem, this dispute, what does it say to the donors, the foreign donors, who are helping Cambodia?

    Mr. Rainsy: Donors are entitled to see that their assistance is effectively used. But unfortunately this is not the case in Cambodia. In order for international assistance to be effectively used, we need democracy. We need transparency. We need the rule of law. We need accountability. And we need checks and balances, which imply a vibrant opposition. If the Cambodian Government eliminates the opposition, there will be no democracy, no governance, and therefore donors will waste the money that they give to Cambodia.

    VOA: Your wife is also a member of parliament, is that correct?

    Mr. Rainsy: Yes, she is.

    VOA: She still has her immunity. Is she likely to step forward and fill the place that you once filled in parliament, the leadership role?

    Mr. Rainsy: The 24 members of parliament from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party have been working closely together and we will cont to do so.

    VOA: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Rainsy: Thank you.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.