News / Asia

Cambodian King Approves Opposition Leader Pardon

FILE - In this July 27, 2008 photo, Sam Rainsy leader of Sam Rainsy Party greets his supporters after casting his vote at a polling station in kampong Cham province north of  Phnom Penh.
FILE - In this July 27, 2008 photo, Sam Rainsy leader of Sam Rainsy Party greets his supporters after casting his vote at a polling station in kampong Cham province north of Phnom Penh.
Robert Carmichael
The Cambodian government announced Friday that opposition leader in exile Sam Rainsy has been pardoned and is free to return to the country ahead of the general election scheduled for July 28.
 
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Prime Minister Hun Sen had sent a request for a royal pardon to Cambodia’s king early Friday. The assent of the king, a constitutional monarch, is a formality.
 
The spokesman said the pardon is to promote national reconciliation and followed a formal pardon request Sam Rainsy sent to the King last month.
 
Speaking from Paris, where he has spent most of the past four years in self-imposed exile, Sam Rainsy said he was pleased at the news.
 
“I am happy not only for myself but mainly for Cambodia - this is a sign, an indication that we are moving in the right direction: the direction of national reconciliation, of national unity without which Cambodia cannot achieve democracy and cannot achieve true development,” he said.
 
Sam Rainsy had previously said he would return to Cambodia before the election despite an 11-year jail term hanging over him. At the time he had said he was prepared to go to jail - a position, one analyst commented, that risked turning him into a martyr.
 
His convictions in 2010 stemmed from two court cases, both of which relate to Cambodia’s contentious border with Vietnam. The bulk of the sentence was for disinformation after he showed off a map whose borders the government said were wrong. Rainsy’s supporters have long denounced the episode as politically motivated.
 
Supporters of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) shout slogans during a general election campaign in Kandal province, July 12, 2013.Supporters of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) shout slogans during a general election campaign in Kandal province, July 12, 2013.
x
Supporters of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) shout slogans during a general election campaign in Kandal province, July 12, 2013.
Supporters of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) shout slogans during a general election campaign in Kandal province, July 12, 2013.
Sam Rainsy’s return will thrill supporters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the coalition of key opposition parties formed to contest the election. The group remains the only serious challenger to Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
 
It will also come as a relief to those among Cambodia’s foreign donors who - Sam Rainsy suggested - had been involved in trying to broker a solution.
 
“Actually I have written to the foreign ministers, secretaries of state representing many countries that were the signatories of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement on Cambodia. So I think all of them have contributed to this happy end,” he said.
 
Questions remain on election

As a consequence of his conviction, Rainsy was also stripped of his parliamentary seat and was banned from running in the election. So does the pardon mean he will now be allowed to take part?
 
“So far not, unless they reverse some of the very arbitrary decisions that the electoral commission has made on political grounds,” he said.
 
The key remaining question is when Sam Rainsy will return. He plans to travel on his French passport, however it has expired and the French authorities are processing a replacement. Rainsy said he should receive it next week, and hopes to be back in Cambodia soon after.
 
However, he added, his return would not resolve a number of election-related issues, chief among them being the composition and the leadership of the National Election Committee.
 
“The electoral commission is not neutral, the electoral commission is a political tool for the ruling party to win any election even before voting day. So my return does not solve those problems,” he said.
 
Those problems, Sam Rainsy said, must be resolved too should Cambodia wish to be seen as holding elections that the wider world will view as free and fair.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Savath Pou from: Sydney, NSW, Australia
July 14, 2013 5:16 AM
The pardon that should not have happened.

Upon formal request made by Cambodia’s Prime Minister Samdech Decho Hun Sen on Friday 12 July 2013, His Majesty King Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni has, next to no time, granted a royal pardon to the CNRP President, Mr. Sam Rainsy, who’s been living in self-imposed exile in France since 2009 just to escape the 11 year imprisonment terms hammered down by the courts.

Samdech Decho Hun Sen’s request for clemency is in itself a noble act which would never be made possible by an ordinary leader with an ordinary heart. The royal approval of the pardon in question is in itself nothing short of graciousness which inspires great admiration and deep respect.

However, the question of whether or not such an arrogant politician as Mr. Sam Rainsy deserves a pardon will certainly remain unanswered for many decades to come in the minds of the overwhelming majority of people who have steadfastly supported the Cambodian People's Party.

With all due respect, I am now asking my open questions to Samdech Decho Hun Sen as follows:

1- Samdech, you have said to the nation on many occasions that you will not request a royal pardon for Mr. Sam Rainsy unless he has spent at least two thirds of his 11 year sentence behind bars, but you actually turned around 180 degrees last Friday just to reverse your decision, why?

2- Taking into account that Mr. Sam Rainsy has been, is and will always be an arrogant Cambodian politician (in ordinary language a poisonous snake) with no real political agenda other than to avenge his father’s death, the traitor Sam Sary, how much of assurance you, Samdech, can give to the nation that the snake will not strike back and destabilize Cambodia’s peace in the future?

3- His Excellency Mr. Phay Siphan, spokesman of the Cabinet of Ministers, assured the media that you, Samdech, have requested the royal pardon for Mr. Sam Rainsy simply for the sake of national reconciliation. Samdech, would Mr. Sam Rainsy think of national reconciliation the same way as you do?

4- Samdech Prime Minister, the overwhelming majority of Khmer people, particularly the one who voted for the CPP in 2008 general election, are entitled to know whether or not you have consulted with them in the form of a national referendum before you actually signed the letter requesting a royal pardon for Mr. Sam Rainsy last Friday?

Samdech Prime Minister, anxiously awaiting your response, I remain
Yours respectfully.

Sydney, 14 July 2013.
Savath Pou,

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid