SRP Plans To Hold Second Phnom Penh Rally

The SRP is preparing to hold a second demonstration in Phnom Penh to demand higher wages and the reduction of prices at the market and the gas pump, party officials said.

The demonstration, the date of which has not yet been set, follows a small rally hosted by the SRP on April 6 that drew only a few hundred supporters.

SRP officials blamed the low turnout on a heavy police presence around the rally and police checkpoints on the city outskirts that were allegedly barring supporters from joining the protest. Police have denied those claims.

Speaking by telephone Tues­day, SRP President Sam Rainsy said that his party plans to prevent a similar scenario from occurring by bringing supporters into the city in the days ahead of the next demonstration.

“We are working to get demonstrators away from the authorities. We will get places for the people to stay in Phnom Penh before the demonstration date,” Sam Rainsy said.

“The people will explode into central Phnom Penh,” he said, but added that he did not yet have an estimate of how many might attend.

Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema and municipal police chief Touch Naruth could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Despite their pre-rally preparations, the SRP will still likely not have support for the next demonstration from opposition-aligned unions.

Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association President Rong Chhun said that his union members would only join the SRP-proposed demonstration if there is further reform within the party.

“The April 6 demonstration showed that the SRP is weak; the SRP must recognize its weakness is due to an internal problem. People are not happy with the party secretary-general [Eng Chhay Eang],” he said. “If there was a good reform, we would cooperate with the party,” he added.

Re-elected secretary-general in September after having previously resigned the post in December 2005, Eng Chhay Eang has proved a controversial figure within the party of late. Many SRP officials who defected to the ruling CPP in recent months have cited Eng Chhay Eang as one of the reasons for their departures.

Chea Mony, president of the SRP-aligned Free Trade Union, said his union would not call on its 80,000 members to join the rally until something is done about Eng Chhay Eang.

“Eng Chhay Eang resigned from the party’s secretary-generalship, now he is back. This means that he cheats the people,” Chea Mony claimed. “April 6 would have been a big demonstration if workers had participated…regardless of any roadblocks,” he said.

Sam Rainsy said that he didn’t worry about union participation, adding that he expected individuals at the grassroots level to join the rally because it promoted their best interests.

Eng Chhay Eang said that in general, people should think about the national interest and not just him as an individual.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the SRP failed to generate a massive demonstration last time and would fail this time as well.

He added that the government has already taken steps to combat rising prices and is working to gradually increase the salaries of civil servants to keep pace with inflation.

Related Stories

Latest News