A former opposition official in the capital yesterday said his shop faces closure after he was accused of providing a platform to CNRP supporters who planned to welcome the return of exiled leaders.
Chhou Pheng, a former CNRP official in Dangkor district, said he was questioned by Dangkor commune chief Soeng Serey on Friday and that she threatened to close down his shop for hosting an illegal movement against the government.
“Most of my customers are former CNRP officials and supporters,” Mr Pheng said. “They normally visit my shop to buy rice and noodles.”
“Sometimes they drink coffee here and discuss about this and that,” he added. “I am aware that they spoke a lot about the arrival of CNRP officials.”
Mr Pheng said he opened the restaurant at his home earlier this year in order to support his family because he is no longer involved in politics.
“She [Ms Serey] was afraid that I gather people to support the arrival of Sam Rainsy,” he said. “However, I told her that I am no longer involved in politics. I can’t ban my customers from talking about or discussing politics.”
Ms Serey yesterday said she was concerned about an illegal movement in her jurisdiction, but she said Mr Pheng was also questioned about the selling of unpermitted medical products from Thailand.
“On that day, I questioned him over medical products he imported from Thailand,” she said. “I suspected that he didn’t have a license to bring in those products.”
“At the same time, I also asked him about the gathering,” she added. “I can’t allow former opposition supporters to form a movement. I needed to make it clear to him.”
Ms Serey noted that Mr Pheng sells various products and food to customers who are supportive of the CNRP.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath yesterday said the authorities should not discriminate against former opposition members and supporters, noting that every citizen has the right to make a comment or get involved in politics.
“I hope the authorities did not classify the gathering of former CNRP supporters as an illegal movement because they just meet and talk,” Mr Chanrath said. “They have the right to discuss politics.”
“I hope some former CNRP members will take caution and not act against the law, so there will not be a problem,” he added.
In May, a total of 26 former CNRP officials were questioned by the Battambang Provincial Court. They were accused of violating a Supreme Court decision dissolving the party after they held a meeting at a noodle shop and expressed support for the nomination of Mr Rainsy as acting president.
On June 9, the Kingdom hosted a nationwide noodle party after Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested that former opposition party members eat noodles together with CPP officials in order to show solidarity.