Yang Saing Koma, founder and president of the agriculture organization Cedac, on Monday announced that he would leave his position to embark on a political career with the recently founded Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP).
Speaking on the sidelines of Cedac’s annual congress in Phnom Penh, Mr. Saing Koma said he was stepping away from 20 years of NGO work for the opportunity to reach more of the country’s farmers.
“I announced today that I would leave the position on the 31st of this month,” Mr. Saing Koma said.
“If I work with Cedac, I can only help a small number of farmers, but if I do politics and win an election to lead the government in a sector like agriculture, I would be able to help farmers nationwide,” he said.
“Currently, we cannot implement [good ideas] because we don’t have power and the national budget. We cannot send many people to go down to work with farmers because we are just a small NGO, but the government can,” he added, declining to elaborate on his future role within the GDP.
Mr. Saing Koma helped establish the “Khmer for Khmer” advocacy group late last year along with Kem Ley, a political analyst and social researcher, and Yeng Virak, the former head of the Community Legal Education Center. Mr. Virak was elected president of the GDP in August.
The veteran of agricultural advocacy is the latest NGO worker to join the GDP, following Sam Inn, who left the NGO Life With Dignity to become the party’s secretary-general in August.
“I am more unique than other politicians…so I believe I can do the job and compete with other politicians,” Mr. Saing Koma said.
“In order to have power, we need to have seats.”