The secretary general of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) Eng Chhay Eang said Sam Rainsy can not return under the current political climate where a journalist and an NGO director were put in jail for criticizing the government.
Eng Chhay Eang said the opposition party leader Sam Rainsy can not afford to be sent to jail. He said Sam Rainsy will continue to serve the party indirectly from abroad while he and the other lawmakers continue to serve the people directly in Cambodia.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he was not surprised to learn that Sam Rainsy delayed his return to Cambodia. The government spokesman said the opposition leader always looked for an excuse not to return. Kanharidh said as a leader Sam Rainsy should not be afraid because the court has not issued any arrest warrant for Rainsy.
Kanharith also said Rainsy's case is different from Mam Sonando's and Rong Chhun's defamation case. He said Sam Rainsy accused the national assembly president Norodom Ranariddh of corruption which is not a criminal case, whereas the other two accused the government of selling land to Vietnam which is a very serious charge.
President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights Kem Sokha said he agreed with the spokesman who said defamation lawsuits are not criminal lawsuits and urged the government to free Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun because they were also charged for defaming the Hun Sen government.