Former minister Chhang Song returned to Cambodia from California for Pchum Ben and spoke with Khmer Times reporters Ros Chanveasna and Ven Rathavong about the Kem Sokha case.
KT: What do you think of Mr Sokha’s claims that the US government is supporting the CNRP?
Mr Song: Frankly, it came as a big surprise and a huge shock when I heard about Kem Sokha’s claims because I know Kem Sokha and what he said is too serious. This is defaming the entire US government and what he said means that the US has been involved in unlawful activities because they are being implicated in an attempt to overthrow the Cambodian government.
No way, the US would do as these politicians claim. The US has its embassy in Cambodia and they don’t do anything without holding.
KT: Could you evaluate Kem Sokha’s claims the US gave him a strategy for regime change in Cambodia?
Mr Song: Kem Sokha has been betraying the US. They have offered him money to educate Cambodian people about human rights and democracy, but he claimed the US gave money for a plan to topple the government.
They gave money in order to educate people to learn how to choose their own leader to lead the government through free and fair elections.
KT: If the US gave money to Kem Sokha for regime change as he claimed, who would suffer directly from this?
Mr Song: Cambodia will suffer from this. All of you people don’t understand what it is like to ask for assistance and aid from the US. I almost felt suicidal in late 1975 because they cut off all aid, and Cambodia was destroyed.
Regarding Kem Sokha’s claim, he is arrogant to say that the US was behind him. This is what we call betraying the US.
KT: Do you believe the allegations levelled against the National Democratic Institute for involvement in providing strategies to the CNRP?
Mr Song: People who work at the NDI are Americans, so we should investigate this issue. The Cambodian government should investigate who invited Mr Sokha to the United States to advise him on a way to overthrow the government.
As far as I am aware, funds were given to the NDI to develop democracy and educate people about it, not for overthrowing a foreign government.
We have to find out who gave money to and trained Kem Sokha. We have to find out all of this. This crime shall be punished with imprisonment.
Chhang Song was Lon Nol’s last Minister of Information and has been living in California for decades.