Ex-Funcinpec Members Sign Critical Letter

Three prominent former Fun­cinpec officials Thursday stood behind an inflammatory “Open Letter of the Royal Gov­ernment of Cambodia” that at­tacked the opposition as “allies” of the Khmer Rouge.

“I’m absolutely sure that everything in the open letter is ab­solutely right,” said Pou Sothirak, the outgoing minister of Indus­try. “So my signature [on the letter] means that I believe, I trust, and I agree. I believe the government stand.”

Nady Tan, who is the former dean of the Funcinpec steering committee, said he was “glad” to sign the eight-page letter, re­leased Wednesday.

“Every point is the same as my ideas, the same as what I always think about,” Nady Tan said.

And Ministry of Agriculture Tao Seng Huor said Thursday that “I believe in the government’s leader,” referring to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The English-language letter was written to counteract a push by some US lawmakers to condemn Hun Sen for alleged hu­man rights violations.

In all, the letter bears 28 signatures, including those of six prominent former Funcinpec members who last year split with the party.

The letter accuses the US, Khmer Rouge and opposition of attempting to undermine the CPP victory in the July election.

“The opposition have not condemned the killing fields of Pol Pot-Ta Mok,” the letter read. “In fact, the abolition of the Law of Outlaw[ing] the Khmer Rouge was publicly presented by the oppositions to the Cambodian people during their 1998 electoral campaign.

“In this case, would the Khmer Rouge and its allies or Samdech Hun Sen be considered the violators of the international humanity laws?” the letter asks.

The letter offers no proof of the allegation.

Funcinpec defection talks with factions of the Khmer Rouge last year intensified a power struggle between Funcinpec and the CPP. The feuding ended in tank battles on the streets of Phnom Penh in July 1997, a battle decisively won by CPP-loyal troops.

The letter defends the second prime minister’s actions in last July’s fighting. “There is no pow­er grab by Samdech Hun Sen, the Second Prime Minister of Cambodia,” the letter states. “He presently maintains the same position. And other national institutions remain unchanged.”

The fighting created a rift in Funcinpec between members who fled the country to join party leader Prince Norodom Rana­riddh in exile and members who chose to stay in their jobs in Phnom Penh.

Tao Seng Huor, Pou Sothirak and Nady Tan eventually formed Reastr Niyum party with Ung Huot, who assumed the first prime minister’s seat a month after the fighting. Reastr Niyum failed to win any seats in the July 26 elections.

Prince Ranariddh, who is to be president of the new National Assembly under a tentative power-sharing agreement concluded last week, said Wed­nes­day that he opposes any government positions for former Fun­cinpec officials who he feels abandoned him.


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