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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs