Ruling Party Claims Another Mass Defection

The ruling CPP claimed another wave of defections from the opposition CNRP in Oddar Meanchey province on Sunday following a public ceremony attended by more than 1,000 people, though an opposition official insisted the majority had come simply for money.

Kinh Vannak, the former head of the CNRP’s provincial executive committee, said he brought about 1,000 people to join the CPP in Oddar Meanchey because he was unhappy with the local opposition party leadership.

“I planned to bring 710 members to defect to the [Cambodian] People’s Party today but the number has increased up to 1,003 people,” said Mr. Vannak, who claimed he left the party of his own volition because “they brought in drunkards to order me around.”

Provincial governor Sar Thavy and General Kun Kim, chief of the CPP’s provincial working group and a deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, presided over the defection ceremony, he said.

In August, the CPP claimed more than 564 new members had defected from the opposition, though that figure was also disputed by provincial CNRP leaders.

Sam Sambo, head of the CNRP’s provincial executive committee, said Mr. Vannak was a CPP plant aiming to destroy the opposition movement in the province.

“My leader fired him from the head of the provincial council committee because he was found to be attempting to split up the National Rescue Party,” he said.

Mr. Sambo insisted that just six members of the party actually defected during Sunday’s ceremony, while the rest attended because they were given money—though he did not know how much.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan denied anyone had made the jump for money, however, and said the defectors had made a wise choice.

“[They] defected to the People’s Party today because they are disappointed with their leaders,” Mr. Eysan said.

“I wish to state that the fish leave the hot water to gather in cool water,” he added. “We keep the door open to all if they want to live with the People’s Party.”

pheap@cambodiadaily.com

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