Beehive Radio director and recently ordained Buddhist monk Mam Sonando announced his intention to re-enter the political realm yesterday, saying he wants to join the Human Rights and Sam Rainsy parties after their slated merging before the 2012 commune elections.
Mr Sonando said he was inspired to join the opposition parties after his ill-fated peace march from Phnom Penh to Oddar Meanchey province in November. Along the way, Mr Sonando said, he met many impoverished and sick Cambodians who were left to fend for themselves and received little to no assistance from the government.
“When they have a problem there is no one to help them,” he said during a news conference at his radio station announcing his new foray into the country’s often turbulent political realm.
“We have to build a good democratic party for our next generation so when we die it will be our legacy,” he said.
On Nov 2, Mr Sonando and a group of monks, nuns, laymen and volunteers set out on foot from the capital to the Dangrek Mountain range on the border with Thailand in Banteay Ampil district’s Ampil commune to build a pagoda. Officials halted the group on Dec 1 about 15 km from their destination, saying a military exercise was in progress and the group could not go any farther.
Both SRP Secretary-General Ke Sovannaroth and HRP President Kem Sokha welcomed the announcement by the radio station chief.
“We need more time for the merger and welcome Mam Sonando or other politicians who have the same will and really want to develop democracy and reform the country,” Ms Sovannaroth said yesterday.
Mr Sonando did not detail what role he would like to play in politics but stated he would want to help lead a “real democratic party.”
The move would not be the first taste of politics for the popular radio personality. Mr Sonando served as president for the Social Beehive Democratic Party, a small political party he established in December 1997 that eventually disbanded in September 2003 after achieving little in terms of electoral gains.
CPP lawmaker and member of the party’s permanent committee Nguon Nhel said the radio host’s move was a political game and believed it would have little effect on future elections.
“The CPP is the most supported by the people and we are not afraid of the merger,” he said. “People will vote for the party that always helps them,” he added.