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

TEXT SIZE - +

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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid