Speaking in public for the first time in his capacity as an adviser to CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha, longtime independent political analyst Lao Mong Hay told villagers at an opposition party event over the weekend that he has long admired the politician and shared his convictions.
Mr. Mong Hay served for almost 20 years as an independent commentator on political events in Cambodia, oft quoted in both the local and international press, before he was named a personal adviser to Mr. Sokha earlier this month.
In a video uploaded to Mr. Sokha’s Facebook page on Monday night, Mr. Mong Hay told opposition supporters at a public forum in Takeo province’s Donkeo City on Saturday that he and Mr. Sokha shared the same political pedigree.
“Kem Sokha and I used to have the same boss, Samdech Sonn San,” Mr. Mong Hay says, referring to the leader of one of the three resistance factions opposed to the Phnom Penh regime during the civil war of the 1980s and ’90s.
“I started taking a strong interest in him when he became the head of a human rights organization,” he says of Mr. Sokha’s emergence as a political leader.
“At that time, I noticed he is a new leader for Cambodia who has enough status, so I supported him for the national interest,” Mr. Mong Hay tells the audience, before explaining his decision to join the opposition movement.
“I see change,” he says. “Since people have more energy, new views, are more active and have more understanding than before about their rights, they use their rights and are more actively participating in social affairs.”
Speaking by telephone Tuesday, Mr. Mong Hay said Mr. Sokha had yet to explain just what kind of political assistance was needed.
“We haven’t talked about this yet. But in my brain, and in my experience, frankly speaking, I want to see better improvements from the grass roots to the upper level,” he said.
“Therefore I hope I can use my knowledge of culture, social issues, economics, political issues and history to help him.”
National Assembly Deputy Secretary-General Hing Soksan said Mr. Mong Hay was an adviser with the rank of a government minister and would be paid the commensurate salary.
According to an October sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, ministers are paid a monthly base salary of 2.1 million riel, or about $525.