Promising to wage the largest of all verbal battles, Funcinpec Senator Serey Kosal said on Wednesday that the royalist party was finished with quietly tolerating the “divisive” tactics of the Sam Rainsy Party.
Reacting to the defection of seven senior Funcinpec officials to the Sam Rainsy Party on Tuesday, Serey Kosal, an adviser to Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said his party will trade criticism for criticism with the opposition party.
He accused Sam Rainsy of engineering the mass defections in order to destroy the royalist party, a move aimed at exacting revenge for Sam Rainsy’s father’s problems with King Norodom Sihanouk in the 1960s.
“From now on, we will no longer tolerate the dividing game of Mr Sam Rainsy. Our patience is finished,” a flustered Serey Kosal told reporters at a news conference at Funcinpec headquarters. “Funcinpec does not have a stance to attack the Sam Rainsy Party, but the latter has made Funcinpec lose patience,” Serey Kosal said. “Funcinpec is prepared to counterattack the criticism from any political party.”
Serey Kosal also downplayed Tuesday’s defection of seven royalist officials, including three parliamentarians, saying they were minor players in the party ranks.
“These defections do not affect Funcinpec at all. They are a few persons. I do not care about a few unimportant people. Our Funcinpec party remains strong. We are a real challenge to the ruling [CPP] party,” he said.
To emphasis Funcinpec’s popularity, some 100 former Sam Rainsy Party supporters were on hand at the royalist headquarters. Serey Kosal said they represented more than 20,000 opposition party supporters who have agreed to vote Funcinpec at the July 27 general elections.
Alluding to Sam Rainsy’s deceased father, Sam Sary, Serey Kosal said “Sam Rainsy is motivated by personal problems to take revenge on Funcinpec.”
Sam Sary died after being accused of treason for his alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow then-prince Norodom Sihanouk when he ruled Cambodia in the 1960s.
Since late last year, 12 top officials have abandoned Funcinpec, giving opposition three more seats in National Assembly for a total of 18.
The defections are as much a symbolic as political victory for the Sam Rainsy Party, which could now pose a serious challenge to Funcinpec’s role as the number two party in Cambodian politics, diplomatic officials say.