Lawmakers Lay Riot Blame With Hun Sen Government

Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec party parliamentarians blasted the government on Friday for failing to prevent the sacking of the Thai Embassy and several Thai-owned hotels and businesses, saying the government’s re­sponse to the riots was inadequate to the degree of complicity.

The lawmakers said the government had unlimited ability to clamp security cordons around peaceful street protests in Phnom Penh. Claims that police and military police were beaten back by a youth mob were, at the least, dubious, the lawmakers charged.

“In the past, when democrats did some small protest the government had enough security to crackdown immediately,” opposition parliamentarian Sam Sun­doeun said outside the National Assembly.

“This makes us suspect the government is behind this activity. We have to investigate,” Sam Sundoeun said, adding that officials responsible for such a debacle should resign.

Funcinpec lawmaker Princess Norodom Vacheara said she will write a formal letter to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong demanding an explanation why the Thai Embassy and its staff were not protected.

“The [Thai] first secretary called me and called the Interior Minister to intervene. But he was told the police were sent already. But, I was informed five minutes later that no police were de­ployed,” Princess Vacheara said. “A few policemen just watched the burning.”

The ministries of Interior and Defense had also failed in their responsibilities.

“It is the duty of the ministries of Defense and Interior to provide the security,” she said.

Co-Defense Minister Tea Banh and co-Interior Minister Sar Kheng said on Thursday they re­gretted the incident but their for­ces were overwhelmed by the youths.

The government also issued an official statement expressing regret and promising full compensation for the destruction at the embassy.

A committee will be set up to assess the damage to Thai businesses, the government said.

RCAF Commander-in-Chief Ke Kim Yan said that security operations were the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. But, 1,000 military police and several armored personnel carriers were eventually deployed to quell the riot.

Claims of government complicity in the mayhem were ridiculous, he said.

“The opposition are opposition so they never agree with the government. Secondly, we would never cut our own flesh and hurt ourselves,” he said.

It was now important to rebuild relations with Thailand or tourism and investment would be adversely affected, he added.

Opposition Party Leader Sam Rainsy said the embassy riot was manipulated by Hun Sen’s government to take people’s minds off more pressing matters.

“This was very distinctive of the politics of dictators who want to distract public attention from internal problems they cannot solve. They try to create an external problem,” Sam Rainsy said.

Fixing people’s attention on Thailand kept their eyes off next month’s border agreement with Vietnam and such issues as poverty, the glacial pace of development and official corruption.

The local human rights group Adhoc said that one woman was fatally shot in the gutted ruins of the Royal Phnom Penh Hotel on Thursday by military police who thought she was a looter.

Adhoc Investigator Ny Chak­riya said so far 10 protesters and police have been identified as having been injured after Wednesday riots.



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