Rainsy Wants to Defend Kem Sokha’s ‘Mistress’ From Attacks

In a break from the CNRP’s stance to refrain from public discussion of claims that deputy party leader Kem Sokha indulged in extramarital affairs, opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Monday asked the party’s public affairs chief to defend one of Mr. Sokha’s alleged mistresses.

Mr. Rainsy, who is living in self-imposed exile in France to avoid various criminal charges, made the request in a private email to the public affairs chief, Mu Sochua, after revelations last week that police are now pursuing Khem Chandaraty for “prostitution” over her alleged liaison with Mr. Sokha.

Khem Chandaraty, an alleged mistress of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha, leaves the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh last month after being questioned by anti-terrorism police. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Khem Chandaraty, an alleged mistress of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha, leaves the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh last month after being questioned by anti-terrorism police. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“Dear Sochua, I think you and all other women who share our values should come to the defense of that woman (Kem Sokha’s alleged mistress) because she is NOT a criminal, she is a human being with dignity regardless of [what] she does in her private life,” Mr. Rainsy wrote. “She must not be publicly humiliated, tortured and crucified like that as they are doing to her for abject political reasons. Thank you for mobilizing Cambodian women who don’t stand such a cruelty and injustice.”

Mr. Sokha has refused to respond to the accusations that he took mistresses, which stem from a series of leaked recordings of purported telephone calls between himself and lovers. During a party congress last month, the CNRP announced that it had established a policy of “not answering, responding or arguing” to political provocations such as the infidelity scandal.

Ms. Chandaraty, who has publicly denied that she engaged in a relationship with Mr. Sokha, has nonetheless been interrogated by police and summoned to appear in court on Friday for questioning over alleged “prostitution” and providing false testimony.

Asked what he wanted Ms. Sochua to do in defense of Ms. Chandaraty, Mr. Rainsy responded: “Leave it to [Ms. Sochua] and other like-minded women. They will know what to do.”

Ms. Sochua, who served as minister for women’s affairs from 1998 to 2004, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. But in an email last week, she said the case was politically motivated.

“Our people are not blind to the political aim behind the scandal against Kem Sokha. Social media is a powerful mean of information for the people who watch each tactic in this political persecution against Kem Sokha,” she wrote.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan denied the ruling party had a hand in the pursuit of Ms. Chandaraty, instead blaming the woman and Mr. Sokha for having slandered activist Thy Sovantha in a recording.

“It is nothing related to the CPP or the government,” the spokesman said.

“The matter occurred due to the interested individuals. If the two concerned individuals did not say something affecting the honor of Thy Sovantha, Thy Sovantha would not have filed the complaint.”

Ms. Sovantha filed a complaint over the alleged slander that led to the current court proceedings, but did not accuse Ms. Chandaraty of prostitution.

(Additional reporting by Ouch Sony)

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