As floods slowly subside and the official death toll from the weeks-long disaster rises above 250, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday blasted opposition politicians over claims that the Cambodian People’s Party used flood relief aid to buy votes.
“Unfortunately, the opposition party complained to the [NEC] that we are buying votes from flood victims,” he said. “This is so bad. I think nobody is worse than these people who did not help at all.”
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the party had not made any complaints to the National Election Committee (NEC) on the issue. Nevertheless, Mr Sovann argued that the ruling party did indeed repackage government and overseas aid in order to garner political allegiance.
“If they put the CPP logo on donations, it is a kind of buying,” he said. “It’s really a political campaign.”
Mr Sovann added that the SRP distributed some aid, but responsibility for providing assistance fell to the government and party in power.
Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the NEC, said an SRP representative brought up the issue of vote-buying at a recent meeting between the NEC and NGOs. “They raised that issue during a meeting last week,” Mr Nytha said.
During his speech yesterday, the Prime Minister also refuted claims from an unnamed SRP commune councilor from Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district that the CPP was only distributing donations to its members. “I would like to take this opportunity to compliment all state institutions, which responded in a timely manner to the floods,” he said.
But SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said that the National Committee for Disaster Management and Cambodian Red Cross seemed to have responded very slowly to help flood victims. Mr Chhay added that the SRP was not in a position to give people supplies. “We tried our best from what we’ve got to support the needs of victims.”