SRP Says Flood Relief Has Turned Political

Opposition party members are complaining that CPP officials are using aid for flood relief to promote their political party for the upcoming commune elections.

The ruling CPP controls the Cam­bo­dian Red Cross and the National Committee for Disaster Manage­ment, the two main agencies providing aid to victims of the worst flooding in Cambo­dia’s recent history, according to Eng Chhay Eang, secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party.

On the National Committee for Disaster Management, Prime Minister Hun Sen serves as chairman, while Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng and co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh, both senior CPP members, are the deputy chairmen. Bun Rany, Hun Sen’s wife, is head of the Cambodian Red Cross.

Eng Chhay Eang said when the two agencies distribute aid to flood victims, only CPP officials are invited to participate. No Sam Rainsy officials have been asked to help hand out aid, he said.

“They are using the national interest for their own policies and their own political party,” Eng Chhay Eang said. “They are boasting that they help the victims when they give out aid.”

Peou Samy, secretary general of the National Committee for Disaster Management, disag­reed, saying aid for flood victims is not a political issue.

“The way we choose officials to give out food and other things to the flood victims is fair,” he said.

Peou Samy, who is a CPP mem­­ber, said because Hun Sen is chairman of the committee and is responsible for providing aid, it is up to him to decide who will participate in donation ceremonies.

Sometimes, though, Hun Sen leaves it up to him to decide what officials should participate, Peou Samy said. On those occasions he said he has invited Funcinpec officials to attend ceremonies.

But Serey Kosal, deputy secretary-general of Funcinpec, said he has never seen any of his party members at ceremonies to provide aid for flood victims.

“People ask me why Fun­cinpec is not present when the National Committee for Disaster Management or the Red Cross gives out aid,” Serey Kosal said. “I tell them that ‘I don’t know why. I don’t understand this either.’”

Nguon Sakhon, deputy secretary general of the Cambodian Red Cross, said his organization is neutral and his staff only focuses on how to best help the flood victims.

“We don’t cater to any politician,” he said.

More than $200,000 has been given to the National Committee for Disaster Management by embassies, NGOs and other organizations.



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