Chinese Man Stages Protest at Coronation

Authorities gave contradictory re­ports Sunday regarding the fate of a Chinese national who used King Norodom Sihamoni’s first pub­­lic address on Saturday to stage an anti-China protest.

Cheng Fen slipped through hundreds of guards and police of­ficers and rushed out of the as­sembled crowd in front of the Royal Palace with a sign reading “evil China” as King Sihamoni spoke from the balcony of Chanch­­haya Hall shortly before 10 am.

King Sihamoni continued his speech seemingly unperturbed.

“China is evil. No freedom for speech, no freedom for religion, no freedom for human rights,” Cheng Fen said in English to re­port­­ers  as he was hustled away, Reuters reported Sa­tur­day.

Sok Phal, Central Security De­part­ment Director for the Min­is­try of Interior, said Sunday that Cheng Fen was still in detention at Phnom Penh Municipal Police headquarters.

“We will make a decision tomorrow,” Sok Phal said. “We have arrested him four times al­ready. He definitely has a mental problem.”

However, Heng Pov, municipal police chief, said: “We released him because he has mental problems.”

A reporter from local Chinese-language newspaper Jian Hua Daily, who asked not to be named, said that Cheng Fen was a former employee. He lost his job as a translator in 2002 after his em­ployers believed he had a mental problem, the source said.

Cheng Fen was a student protester in the 1989 Ti­an­an­men Square massacre and was tortured by Chinese au­thorities, the source said. He fled to Burma and then Thailand be­fore arriving in Cambodia in 1997.

He was last arrested in April for raising a sign that read “sick dark China” near the US Em­bas­sy.

Chinese Embassy officials denied knowledge of the incident Sunday and declined comment.

(Additional reporting by Nhem Chea Bunly)



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