Long Sary—whose confession to membership in an alleged opposition-led “shadow army” helped convict Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Cheam Channy on charges of sedition—said Sunday that he has established a humanitarian organization to benefit Khmer Krom people living in Cambodia.
Long Sary, a construction worker, said his Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association for Public Welfare will serve the elderly and those infected with HIV/AIDS. The association already counts 1,000 members, he said, adding that members must pay a 2,000 riel monthly fee.
Despite recently being center stage in national politics, Long Sary was adamant that his organization was apolitical.
“I am not involved in politics,” he said, but added that Khmer Krom people have the right to political affiliations, too.
“I don’t want our Khmer Kampuchea Krom to be cheated” of their political rights, Long Sary said.
The umbrella group of Kampuchea Krom organizations, however, has refused to partner with Long Sary’s group, said Kim Vannchheng, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee.
“He is involved in politics, and we don’t know his real identity, whether he is Khmer Kampuchea Krom [or not],” Kim Vannchheng said.
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community Director and Sam Rainsy Party Senator Thach Setha also worried that Long Sary was acting as a pawn for a political party. But Thach Setha said he would reserve final judgment and wait to see if Long Sary’s association would in fact serve the interests of the community.