Former opposition party vice president Eng Chhai Eang has urged supporters to donate money in a bid to raise $300,000 within three months to arrange for Sam Rainsy’s return to Cambodia.
Speaking at a public forum in California, United States on Monday, Mr Chhai Eang said preparations required specific strategic plans to ensure Mr Rainsy’s safety.
“We do not need much money; $300,000 is enough to carry out our strategic activities,” Mr Chhai Eang said. “So I call on all supporters who would like to donate money to make it happen in three months.”
He noted the funds will be used to facilitate Mr Rainsy’s return, expand political relations and increase anti-government information.
Mr Chhai Eang also called on supporters to show up and greet Mr Rainsy when he arrives.
The government deems activities related to the dissolved CNRP as illegal and has warned of legal action against the group.
“We must have enough support to oppose any negative impact. What if Mr Rainsy is arrested or killed? Who will lead this movement?” Mr Chhai Eang said. “Please do not be scared of police or military tanks because I am sure that the presence of 10,000 to 20,000 supporters would make us win.”
He also said that he plans to lead protests if Mr Rainsy is arrested, noting that former party members made two big mistakes by being silent when former leader Kem Sokha was arrested and the party was dissolved by the Supreme Court.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday slammed Mr Chhai Eang’s statement, calling it a trick to fool former party supporters to raise the money.
“Mr Rainsy will not return and Mr Chhai Eang will make another excuse to fool the supporters after the group receives all the money,” he said, “The group’s strategy is just to find ways to collect envelopes filled with money from the supporters.”
Mr Eysan also suggested that former opposition party supporters should question former CNRP leaders about the funds they had earlier contributed to set up CNRP’s Sun TV.
“They received about $800,000 from their supporters to set up a television station,” he said. “Where did they spend that money? I am sure that their supporters remember this.”
The setting up of Sun TV was a key element of a July 2014 political deal with the CPP which resolved an impasse when the CNRP boycotted the National Assembly after the 2013 election.
The former opposition at that time planned to spend $3 million on the station. It had raised more than $700,000 from local and international donors in early 2017.
Kun Lum Ang, the former opposition senator who was assigned to be in charge of the Sun TV, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay yesterday said that the funds being sought for Mr Rainsy’s return is too much.
“A one-way ticket for Sam Rainsy wouldn’t cost that much unless he charters a private plane,” he said.