SRP Denies Alleged Involvement in Angkor Wat Sandal Scandal

Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang rejected police allegations Jan 25 that he was behind the distribution of flip-flop sandals bearing the image of Angkor Wat.

Cambodian authorities said this week they had begun investigating the appearance of the sandals—which were sold at a Vietnamese market but reportedly produced in Cambodia—and suspected their manufacture was an attempt to stoke anti-Vietnamese sentiment.

Svay Rieng deputy provincial police chief Leuk Chamroeun said Jan 25 police had questioned Sok Sam Ean, the SRP’s deputy commune chief in Chantrea district’s Bavet commune, who delivered some of the shoes to Eng Chhay Eang in Phnom Penh Jan 22.

“The buyer was a member of the Sam Rainsy Party. This is the preliminary conclusion,” Leuk Cham­roeun said. “The first deputy commune chief collected the shoes for the secretary-general Eng Chhay Eang.”

However Eng Chhay Eang said the party was collecting the sandals as evidence and denied that the party was in any way connected to the production of Angkor flip-flops.

“The Sam Rainsy Party member is the one who found the shoes,” Eng Chhay Eang said of Sok Sam Ean. “When he saw the shoes he felt hurt, so he brought it to Phnom Penh for the party to be informed so that the government could take measures.”

“[The police] must take this case not as a political case but a national issue,” he said. “The Sam Rainsy Party does not have a factory to produce shoes.”

Eng Chhay Eang also accused police of intimidating Sok Sam Ean during harsh questioning Jan 25.

However Leuk Chamroeun de­nied the accusation.

“I just asked him to clarify matters and did nothing to intimidate him,” Leuk Chamroeun said. “He was the one who brought the shoes to Excellency Eng Chhay Eang.”

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Jan 25 that the government had not yet drawn any final conclusion about the sandals’ origin. “What the Svay Rieng police said is a personal assumption,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The government doesn’t make any conclusion yet.”

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