Sam Rainsy has been barred from entering Thailand after he sent a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha revealing his plans to enter the country to reach Cambodia on November 9.
“You may be aware that I plan to return to Cambodia this coming November 9,” Rainsy said. “I wish to request…the right to land at Bangkok international airport on November 8, and then enter into Cambodia [from] Poipet, near Aranyaprathet.”
Rainsy has been vowing to return to the Kingdom to restore democracy and human rights. However, the government has accused him and his allies of planning a coup. Rainsy was recently convicted in absentia for insulting King Norodom Sihamoni and demoralising the army.
The Bangkok Post yesterday reported Thailand is unlikely to allow Rainsy entry.
“According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal affairs, and we will not allow an anti-government person to use Thailand for activism,” Mr Prayut said, as quoted by the Bangkok Post.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said Mr Prayut’s statement regarding Rainsy is welcomed.
“We thank the Thai government for not interfering in another Asean member’s internal affairs,” Mr Siphan said. “It was the correct decision because it would have provoked anarchy in Thai territories.”
He noted that Rainsy will not return to the Kingdom on Saturday.
Asean countries are divided on whether they should deport former opposition activists ahead of Rainsy’s planned return to the Kingdom on November 9.
The government had sent alerts to Asean countries to inform them that Rainsy and his supporters are wanted in Cambodia for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government.
Two unnamed activists were detained in Malaysia on Tuesday after they tried to board a flight to Bangkok, but it is unclear whether they will be deported.
Mu Sochua, former vice president of the CNRP, was spotted holding a press conference in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta yesterday, but she was not arrested by authorities.
The Cambodian embassy in Jakarta in a letter said Sochua is a fugitive charged with “attacking” a legally elected government.
“The embassy of Cambodia in Jakarta requests Indonesian authorities to arrest Mu Sochua and deport her to Cambodia immediately in the true spirit of Asean,” it said.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, yesterday confirmed letters had been sent to Indonesian authorities by the embassy.
“The government of Cambodia and the government of Indonesia have worked together,” Mr Kuong said. “We have previously sent court warrants; this is not the first time.”
He noted he does not know when the two activists detained in Malaysia will be sent to Cambodia.
“We have not received information on the exact date for sending them to Cambodia. It [depends] on Malaysian authorities,” Mr Kuong said, noting that Cambodia has only signed extradition treaties with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. “For countries that have no [agreed] on extradition, it [depends] on their internal laws. We are waiting for a decision by Malaysian authorities.”
Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun, spokesman for the National Police, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
However, he told local media the two people detained in Malaysia were activist Ngim Keatha and former commune chief Heng Seangleang.
In addition, police in Phnom Penh have recently apprehended at least a dozen CNRP activists for allegedly supporting Rainsy’s plan to return.
Major General Song Ly, deputy chief of municipal police, yesterday said Meanchey district police officers arrested ten people Tuesday evening as they gathered in Chak Angre Loeu commune. Another two were nabbed yesterday.
Of the dozen, two have so far been charged while the remainder are still being questioned, according to court officials. Those charged were Sry Chandara and Heng Chansothy, who were both slapped with conspiracy charges.
“They were arrested in connection to [activities] affecting security and public order,” Maj Gen Ly said. “Now they are being questioned at the Phnom Penh municipal police headquarters.”
More than 60 activists and former CNRP members have been arrested over the past month for allegedly being involved in Rainsy’s planned coup. Wanted posters of Rainsy and his top allies have been posted at all checkpoints along the Thai border.
General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, yesterday said Cambodia welcomes Rainsy’s return.
“We will welcome him with an arrest,” Gen Sopheak said.