BerlinRosen, a Washington-based public relations firm, yesterday confirmed it was collaborating with the Cambodia National Rescue Movement to manage a publicity campaign aimed at intensifying international pressure on Prime Minister Hun Sen.
According to files released under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and published by Asia Times on Tuesday, the CNRM retained the US firm to manage a publicity campaign.
The paid services, aimed at intensifying international pressure on Mr Hun Sen’s recent political repression, will cost $250,000 over the next six months.
BerlinRosen will be tasked with putting across these messages to the international media. Among other contractual conditions, the firm must publish two op-eds “pitched to high-value international media”, while helping the CNRM to place two more op-eds in other publications, the report said.
The PR firm said in an email to Khmer Times yesterday that it was proud to push for free and fair elections in the Kingdom.
“BerlinRosen is proud to partner with the Cambodia National Rescue Movement to elevate the calls of the movement and its supporters worldwide for free and fair elections in Cambodia,” it said.
Sam Rainsy, the former leader of the dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, told Asia Times that the ruling CPP contains “many progressive elements who can be included in a vast national union to make Cambodia move forward on a healthy ground.”
Mr Rainsy has lived in exile since 2015 after being hit with slew of court cases, including by Mr Hun Sen who accused him of defamation.
In January, Mr Rainsy established the CNRM in response to the Supreme Court’s controversial pre-election dissolution of the CNRP to help it rejoin the upcoming national election and unite opposition figures.
The CNRP was dissolved after its leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges and the party was accused of conspiring with the US to topple the government through a colour revolution. The court also banned 118 senior party members from politics for five years.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said yesterday that it was not unusual the CNRM chose a private company to help its campaign.
“It could be a new strategy of the CNRM for its actions abroad. Using a private group as a pressure group is something we have heard about in politics,” he said.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said on his Facebook page yesterday that the imposition of restrictions on Cambodian courts and the Cambodian government in any form was aggression and abuse.
“Cambodia is not a colonial state of any foreign group, and Cambodia has the right to guarantee and maintain its legitimacy,” he said.