The Cambodian Confederation of Unions wrote to National Assembly and CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin on Tuesday asking for parliament to vote on whether to grant “hero” status to slain Free Trade Union President Chea Vichea.
The CCU, which consists of the FTU and the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said a request to grant Chea Vichea the title of “Hero for Khmer Union Workers” was first submitted to the Assembly in 2004, though no vote or debate on the matter has been held.
“Chea Vichea fulfilled his duty as a Cambodian citizen in the union movement that demanded that factory owners respect the Labor Law,” the CCU said in the letter Tuesday. “He was very brave and confronted danger in order to change the labor conditions in Cambodia,” it added.
Rong Chhun, CITA president, said by telephone that the CCU also wants the municipality to allow it to place a 1.67-meter statue of Chea Vichea in front of Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka, near the newsstand where he was gunned down in January 2004.
Heng Samrin told reporters at the National Assembly on Tuesday that the government, rather than parliament, should decide whether to recognize Chea Vichea as a hero.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said by telephone that Chea Vichea lacked the historical credentials to be deemed a real Cambodian hero.
“The National Assembly should not discuss whether to grant the ‘hero’ title because [Chea Vichea] had not earned enough merit to deserve the title,” he said. “I agree he helped the workers, but only over a short time.”
SRP President Sam Rainsy said granting Chea Vichea the title would be a good idea.
“I think we have to pay homage to Chea Vichea as somebody who has done great things for the workers,” he said.
Pa Socheatvong, deputy Phnom Penh governor, said City Hall would welcome CCU’s request to erect a statue, but declined to say whether the request would be granted.