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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid