Sam Rainsy Parliamentarian Monh Siyon announced on Friday his departure to the Funcinpec party, the fifth defection of a opposition parliamentarian to the royalists ahead of the July 27 general election.
Defecting to Funcinpec with his wife Im Sithe, the deputy director of the opposition party’s Women’s Movement, Monh Siyon likened his defection to the end of a political marriage.
“I never divorced my wife. But my wife divorced me. So what can I do?” Monh Siyon told a news conference held at Funcinpec headquarters.
“I joined the Sam Rainsy Party from the beginning and we helped each other. But in the end, when the party became a big house, they kicked me out of the house and called me old, lazy and not energetic,” he said.
Monh Siyon said he was forced out by the actions of the Sam Rainsy Party leadership.
“The Sam Rainsy Party does not follow real democracy, there is nepotism among party leaders,” he said, adding that Funcinpec was a true “grass roots party” and more politically mature.
Responding to questions about the rash of defections to the royalist party, Funcinpec Parliamentarian Ok Socheat said his party now wanted to concentrate on preparing for the election and not poaching opposition members.
However, Ok Socheat’s words were drowned out by protests from several royalist colleagues who said that Sam Rainsy Party members had not been encouraged to defect.
Continuing with a muted response to the stream of defections, the Sam Rainsy Party issued a statement on Friday questioning the motives behind the defections.
The five parliamentarians who defected from the Sam Rainsy did so only after it was clear they had not been selected to stand in the forthcoming poll, the statement said.
While the loss of another parliamentarian could deliver a blow to Sam Rainsy ahead of the election, the opposition party leader did receive small compensation in the form of a letter on Friday from King Norodom Sihanouk’s life-long and controversial pen pal, Ruom Ritt.
According to a copy of the letter, Ruom Ritt wrote to Sam Rainsy in honor of the work his father, Sam Sary, did when then Prince Sihanouk was working toward Cambodia’s independence in the 1940s and 1950s.
Ruom Ritt referred to Sam Sary’s patriotism and his “uncompromising” stance on preserving the territorial integrity of Cambodia.
“[Sam Sary] helped in the building, on a solid foundation, the SRN [Sangkum Reastr Niyum]…. Clean, non-Mafioso, non-begging” Ruom Ritt said.
Ruom Ritt’s comments are sure to stoke interest given that many observers believe that the King is the mysterious letter writer.
Sam Rainsy said it contained “significant political meaning.”
“Now this part of Cambodian history cannot be exploited to hide what I am trying to do for Cambodia now,” Sam Rainsy said.
“[Ruom Ritt] may want to convey the message that my father, and probably myself also, are supporters of the ideals of [King Sihanouk’s] Sangkum Reastr Niyum,” he said.
While Sam Sary was once close to then Prince Sihanouk he was later accused of attempting to organize a coup against the prince and was forced to flee Cambodia.