Sam Rainsy Book Banned

“Light of Justice,” a 48-page book written by opposition party leader Sam Rainsy and published July 3, has been banned by the government, which has ordered police to confiscate all copies.

The Sam Rainsy Party has posted the Khmer-language version of the book on the Internet at and says an English version is being prepared.

“In spite of—or because of—the ban, we want the book to be accessible to any Internet user,” the party stated in an e-mail distributed widely.

“Information technology is being used to promote democracy, to defend fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression and freedom of publication, and therefore to defy any interdiction by any dictator,” the e-mail stated.

The Internet, however, is ac­cessible to only a fraction of Cambo­dians.

Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Infor­mation, said Sunday the book was banned because it could “stir controversy” and makes allegations against the government without providing any supporting evidence.

“In one part, Sam Rainsy says that after 1979, more people died than during the Khmer Rouge. You can’t say things like that without evidence. That promotes instability,” Khieu Kanharith said.

But party officials said the opposition leader’s parliamentary immunity should extend to the book.

“Let the people read it and decide” if there is truth in the book, Phi Thach, secretary general of the Sam Rainsy Party said. Banning it violates Sam Rainsy’s rights and the right of the public to be informed, he said.

Sam Rainsy issued a statement saying he has filed a complaint on the confiscation with National Assembly president Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

According to a summary posted on the Web site, the book outlines the party’s 10-point political platform; discusses problems such as environmental degradation, corruption and AIDS; and addresses the role of women.

Bora Touch, who identifies himself in an e-mail to the Foreign Ministry and various media outlets as a Khmer lawyer living in Australia, says that while he does not belong to the Sam Rainsy Party, he opposes censorship as a matter of principle.

“As I understand democracy, the free exchange of ideas is the way that a majority of society determines which ideas are strong or true and which are not,” he writes.

“If society is denied the opportunity to read this book, it will not be in a position to reject Mr. Rainsy’s ideas or to debate them. Accordingly, to quell free speech by prohibiting the circulation of Mr. Rainsy’s book is contrary to democracy,” Bora Touch’s e-mail states

Khieu Kanharith said Sam Rainsy has the right to sue the government over the confiscation of the book.

(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)



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