Sam Rainsy Blames Gov’t For Drought

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy charged Monday that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government was responsible for the destruction of the country’s forests that has led to this year’s drought.

Sam Rainsy, speaking at a workshop on the opposition party’s watchdog role, drew from a series of recent reports criticizing slow or ineffective government reforms, most notably a Global Witness report outlining an expansive network of illegal logging.

“Mr Hun Sen’s regime has al­ways said that [drought] is not because of this or that phenomenon,” Sam Rainsy said. “It is due to the growing problem of illegal logging—a result of unchecked corruption—that this disaster has occurred. It is time that we and all sectors of society unify to think over and put out analyses on these issues, as well as recommendations, so the government will do its work more efficiently to help the country’s social and economic plight.”

Deforestation and corruption are two of the most visible problems plaguing Cambo­dia as  farm­ers worry about food shortages and forecasts of slower economic growth, observers say.

Part of the opposition party’s strategy will be formation of a “team of experts” to act as a think tank and shadow the central government’s movements, said Mu Sochua, former Fun­cinpec minister of women’s affairs and now a member of the opposition party’s Cabinet. Though not naming its members, Mu Sochua said the team will include party members and leaders of civil society and the private sector.

Sam Rainsy also attacked Hun Sen for his  response to the drought, saying the premier has undertaken much-publicized tours of rural areas instead of following through on promises to reduce poverty. State-controlled television last weekend broadcast footage of the barefoot premier examining rice fields in the countryside and trudging through irrigation canals.

“One’s political popularity is not just about handing out donations,” Sam Rainsy said. “People do realize what is behind the facade of Hun Sen’s regime.”


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