News / Asia

Opposition Leader Says Cambodia's Government Faces Possible Protests

Sam Rainsy, leader of Cambodia's opposition Sam Rainsy Party, speaks during a campaign rally in Kandal province in 2008.
Sam Rainsy, leader of Cambodia's opposition Sam Rainsy Party, speaks during a campaign rally in Kandal province in 2008.

Multimedia

Audio
  • http://www.voanews.com/MediaAssets2/english/2011_03/QA_Cambodia_Politics_--_Woodsome__Sam_Rainsy.Mp3

Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy says Cambodians are growing impatient with the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has held on to power for 26 years.  Sam Rainsy says his countrymen could decide to follow the example of Egyptians and Tunisians, who recently overthrew their authoritarian rulers.

The opposition leader, who faces a prison sentence at home for allegedly inciting racial tension with Vietnam, is currently living in France. He recently visited the U.S. and spoke with VOA’s Kate Woodsome.  In their conversation, Sam Rainsy pointed to parallels between the situation in Cambodia and that in the Middle East.

Listen to the full interview:

Does Cambodia have the potential to turn into a situation like what happened in Egypt and Tunisia?

"There are many similarities between Cambodia and those countries where we have seen popular uprisings over the last few weeks or few months.  The similarities are related to poverty, to social injustice, to corruption, to the lack of mechanisms whereby the people could express themselves—could express their will to change—to improve—the system.  So because of this lack of freedom, and because of the growing popular frustrations and discontent, I think what is happening in Egypt, in Tunisia, and in Libya could take place also in Cambodia any time."

Is that something that you would like to see happen?

"It would be better to avoid violence.  It is why we urge the Cambodian government, with the support of the international community, of friendly countries such as the United States, to implement democratic reform, to ensure that the people have a means to express their desire for change and they do not have to resort to street demonstrations to bring about democratic reforms."

You say Cambodians are concerned about poverty and corruption, but the International Republican Institute recently released a survey showing that 76 percent of Cambodians are satisfied with the direction of their country. How do you explain that?

"It depends on the question that you ask.  If you ask, “Have your living conditions improved over the last five years?” I think the answer would be different.  So, in a country where there are no freedoms of expression, we have to take very carefully the result of any opinion poll."

Is there any indication that the Cambodian government is concerned the demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa could spread to Cambodia?

"Definitely, the Cambodia government is very concerned because the ruling party in Cambodia, and especially Mr. Hun Sen, have been in power for around 30 years.  And all over the world there is a desire for change.  People want change, want new leaders, want new approach, want new policies."

Have you seen any indication the Cambodian government is taking steps to avoid what is happening in the Middle East?

"Yes, they have closed down some opposition websites, because these new technologies are very helpful for protesters to coordinate their effort to organize protests.  So definitely the Cambodia government is very concerned, but generally speaking, they tightly control the press.  They have a monopoly on the electronic press and they tightly control the non-government organizations and the civil society in general."

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid