Two ethnic Vietnamese men were arrested and sent to Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court on Thursday after being accused of illegally entering the residence of a number of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) candidates, officials said, an act that one CNRP lawmaker called political intimidation.
Police arrested Cambodian national Rum Ly, 55, and a 44-year-old Vietnamese national on Wednesday in Serei Saophoan City after a CNRP lawmaker candidate filed a complaint, said Ban Thoeun, Banteay Meanchey immigration police chief.
“During the questioning process, they claimed they had been to Banteay Meanchey province a few times to find a location to open a medical clinic, and stressed that they had been given permission to enter the house,” he said.
But CNRP lawmaker candidate Long Ry said that the invasion was an act of intimidation.
“We have advocated a lot against illegal immigrants flowing into Cambodia, which is why it is a threat when our lawmakers’ accommodation is entered by Vietnamese people,” he said, adding that the house had clear signs posted outside stating that it was a CNRP residence, and that the intruders had forced their way in.
“The guard at the house tried to stop the men from entering the house, but the suspect didn’t stop and entered the house to check a number of rooms,” he said.
Speaking by phone Thursday, landlord Lay Savorn said that she had recently leased her home to the CNRP candidates, and that the Vietnamese men had approached her separately to rent a guesthouse she owned. She said that the men had refused her offer of $5,000 per month to lease the 30-room building as a medical center.
“One man who spoke Khmer with a strong accent asked to see another house of mine, but I refused to let them inside as I had already rented it to senior officials [from the CNRP],” she said.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that breaking into a residential property was punishable by up to one year in jail under Cambodian law.
“We are investigating whether or not the two Vietnamese men…were ill-intentioned or had a threat-related purpose for breaking into the residence,” he said.