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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora