No, Cambodia’s Opposition Does Not Need to Take a Sabbatical

A new non-partisan movement is aiming to give the large Cambodian diaspora a greater voice in the country’s politics.

It is not quite time for the aging leaders of Cambodia’s opposition to shuffle off the stage, as proposed by David Hutt in his article “Cambodia’s Opposition Needs to Take a Sabbatical” in The Diplomat on February 27. The choice of the word “sabbatical” is odd. A sabbatical is usually a period of paid leave from an academic position. Kem Sokha was the leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) when it was dissolved in 2017. He is now aged 70 and presumably, according to the article’s logic, is too old to hold such a position

Kem Sokha is now serving 27 years in detention at his home under his bogus treason conviction. He is not allowed to see anyone, including his medical doctors and his lawyers, without court approval. It’s fair to assume that he won’t be going on sabbatical any time soon. Son Chhay, a vice president of the Candlelight Party, may not be able to afford a sabbatical, as he has been ordered by the courts to pay $1 million in damages simply for having criticized the conduct of Cambodia’s local elections in June 2022.

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