Thach Reng, longtime resistance fighter and an adviser to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, died Thursday due to illness. He was 70.
Thach Reng will be sorely missed by his countrymen, said Pol Ham, deputy executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Human Rights. “He was my senior who I respected greatly,” said Pol Ham. “He was a contributor to peace in Cambodia.”
Pol Ham said that while he was a director of the KPNLF’s radio station he met with Thach Reng during the peace talks of the 1980s that led to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.
Former BLDP member and current Funcinpec Senator Kem Sokha said he was saddened to lose a “great compatriot.”
“He was the one who opposed foreign aggression; he was a lover of democracy and a nationalist,” he said.
Thach Reng was selected to join parliament in 1997 after the death of another parliamentarian. He was made an adviser to Prince Ranariddh two years later.
A former commander in the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front during its fight against the Vietnamese-backed government of the 1980s, Thach Reng was the only one of five Assembly members in Son Sann’s BLDP faction to stay in Phnom Penh after the 1997 factional fighting.
The outspoken parliamentarian was the only lawmaker to vote against stripping Prince Ranariddh of his parliamentary immunity in the Assembly’s Aug 6, 1997, session. A parliamentarian of the Son Sann faction of the BLDP, Thach Reng was dubbed “Mr Democracy” by then-second prime minister Hun Sen for being the sole opposition parliamentarian to stay in Phnom Penh after the factional fighting. Thach Reng formed his own party in March 1998, shortly before the national elections, calling it the “Light of Liberty of Mr Thach Reng.”
His funeral procession and cremation are scheduled for today at Wat Botum.