Touch: Rainsy will never return

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Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party. AFP

Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom.

Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Saturday, Rainsy posted a video on Facebook thanking his supporters for their devotion, which he said had laid "big foundations" for a political solution in Cambodia.

“The success of our party will reach 100 per cent as now we have achieved at least 70 per cent because of the efforts of brothers and sisters. Our big political foundations are increasing, so sooner or later we will reach 100 per cent,” Rainsy claimed.

However, Sok Touch, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Rainsy had no intention of returning and merely wanted to create political waves.

Rainsy has been living in Paris, France since 2015 to avoid a slew of outstanding court cases and convictions.

His claims that he would return to the Kingdom on November 9 was denounced by the government as a coup plot after he vowed to arrest Prime Minister Hun Sen using "people power". He also called on soldiers to turn their guns on Hun Sen.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay claimed that the other 30 per cent could take longer and that Rainsy’s "return" on November 9 “was just a test”.

“What is admirable about Sam Rainsy so far is that almost single-handedly he, who lives abroad, has turned himself into an icon of change for those of his fellow countrymen who aspire for a change in the governance of the country,” Mong Hay said.

Mong Hay claimed that Rainsy had succeeded in sustaining and strengthening such aspirations and his popularity.

However, he said it remained questionable whether he could ever attain his goal of returning to Cambodia and seizing power from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who commands the support of the army and security forces.

“The remaining 30 per cent of his journey may be as long as or even longer than the 70 per cent he has claimed to have travelled,” Mong Hay said.

Countering this, Touch said, “Rainsy just wants to make people concerned and unable to carry out their business, which could ultimately lead to an economic crisis.

“He wants to push the government into reaching a political solution. And with the release of Kem Sokha during Water Festival [on Sunday], [Rainsy] can gain from this by claiming it was he who fought oppression.”

Touch said the latest actions by Rainsy vis-a-vis his claims of returning were merely intended to test the situation. “He will not return because he is not willing to go to jail,” Touch said.

Rainsy is currently in Malaysia, where he is set for a meeting at the Malaysian Parliament building following an invitation from Nurul Izzah Anwar, the Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh.

Nurul Izzah has invited Rainsy and his wife for discussions on the best socio-developmental paths available for both Malaysia and Cambodia.

Cambodia had sent requests to Asean member countries to arrest Rainsy and the CNRP leadership.

CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua was briefly detained at Kuala Lumpur airport by Malaysian authorities on Wednesday.

Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Saifuddin Abdullah told media that Malaysia had not extradited either Rainsy or Sochua as Cambodia had requested because they had not used Cambodian passports.

“We did not fulfil the Cambodian government’s request to send them back if they arrived here.

“They arrived here not as Cambodian citizens. So what can I do? Allow them in. But I hope they will not use Malaysia as a platform to mobilise their political movement,” said Saifuddin, as quoted by the New Straits Times on Sunday.