A Change of Guard

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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Capital's US sister city ‘denounces’ Hun Manet’s visit

Hun Manet, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, pictured at an event in 2014.
Hun Manet, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, pictured at an event in 2014. Hong Menea

Capital's US sister city ‘denounces’ Hun Manet’s visit
ppp Thu, 31 March 2016
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Hun Manet’s tour of the United States has hit another snag.

Days after bowing out of a planned Khmer New Year parade in Long Beach, California, in response to a local backlash, the prime minister’s eldest son has seen Phnom Penh sister city Lowell, Massachusetts, home to the US’s second-largest Cambodian community, roll up the red carpet.

On Tuesday, the Lowell city council voted to “denounce” the impending visit. However, the council had yet to decide whether to accept the RCAF lieutenant general’s intended gift, a replica of a statue of Jayavarman VII.

Lowell Mayor Edward J Kennedy – who abstained from the otherwise unanimous 8-0 vote – will also decline to meet with Manet, an aide told the Post.

Images and video posted by the paper online show hundreds of protesters gathered inside the city hall with signs bearing slogans such as “Dictatorship is not welcome in Lowell” and “Stop unlawful evictions”. While dozens of residents spoke against welcoming Manet, several dissenting voices spoke on his behalf, though they were met with boos.

“I fully support the sister city relationship between Phnom Penh and the City of Lowell,” said resident Chea Sarun in a video in which he addresses the city hall in Khmer with an interpreter.

In another video, Kay Kamara, a leader of the opposition to Manet’s visit, called for the rejection of the Jayavarman statue as it is a symbol of the Cambodian people’s “unity” and “strength”, while “there is no strength and unity in our culture in the motherland”.

“Isn’t it wonderful to live in Lowell where we have free democracy here? . . . That’s all you were asking for in Cambodia, is that too much to ask for?” City councillor Rita Mercier can be heard saying in a video circulating on Facebook.

“My philosophy is the majority rules, and I think more people are against this visit than for this visit,” Mercier continued, before then recounting a trip to Cambodia in which she visited Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields. “I wanted to feel what you felt … it was horrendous what you people went through.”

“Since I know who is there and who is coming over here – I don’t like communism, I don’t like persecution . . . I will not honour this man,” she said, seemingly conflating the Khmer Rouge era with the current government.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan reacted to the news yesterday by accusing the Lowell City Council of politicising what should be a unifying occasion, and condemning the vote as “an uncivilised act”.

“They do not have any argument; they are against their own principles of democracy and open society,” he said.

As for the Cambodian expatriates of Lowell, Siphan said “Hun Manet’s father [Hun Sen] liberated those people, they have a choice to go anywhere they want, they have the option to come back and form a political party against Manet’s father.”

Responding to Mercier’s comments, Siphan dismissed the councillor as having an inaccurate view of history.

“The bad guys are on trial already [at the ECCC], she’s thinking of the 1970s.

“That white girl has no capacity to live with diverse people . . . she’s prejudiced.”

Sebastian Strangio, a journalist and author of Hun Sen’s Cambodia, yesterday said that while the cancellation was “unlikely to have much effect on politics back in Cambodia”, it did suggest that “the CPP’s charm offensive in overseas Khmer communities is yielding little for the party”.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Lowell City for banning this clown from your city.

Anonymous said...

នេះជាកម្រោង របស់ ស៊ីភីភី ដែលគេចង់មកបង្កើតនឹងពង្រឹងបក្ស ស៊ីភីភី របស់គេ ហើយនៅកាលខែមុន គេបានបញ្ជូនអ្នកដែលទៅចូលធ្វើការ ជាមួយ ហ៊ុន សែន ឲ្យមកបញ្ចុះបញ្ចូលឲ្យចូលបក្ស ស៊ីភីភី របស់គេ តែខ្លះមកដល់តែវាលាក់មុខមិនហ៊ាន ឬមួយគេមិនទាន់ចេញសកម្មភាព ព្រោះពួកនោះគេមិនឈប់ទេ មកពីគេបានធ្វើសំបថជាមួយអង្គការ គេរួយហើយ គឺពិតជាមិនដកខ្លួនបានដាច់ខាត ហើយល្អណាស់ដែលបងប្អូនបានឃើញនឹងដឹងរឿងនេះ ឃើញទេគេបង្កើតបក្ស ស៊ីភីភី គេច្រើនកន្លែងហើយ នៅ លូវ ឡុងបិច វាសិងតុន ហ្លូរីដា ហើយខ្មែរទាំងនោះដូចបងប្អូនដឹងស្រាប់ ថាវារបៀបណានោះ ។

Anonymous said...

Dear Readers,
Thanks for all Khmer people who live in Lowell and decided not allow the Hun Sen's clan coming into your area.
Beside of that, I would like to thank for all Lowell city council members who voted to oppose Hun Manet's trip to your city.
Please remember, the Hun's clan will try all means to sneak into our society, but if we all stand up to oppose and fight back, they can not and will not come into our Cambidian society.
The first one, the Hun's clan was knocked down in Long Beach and the second one in Lowell.
The Hun's clan will knock down very where the want to go in the United States and any where else in the world.
God bless Cambodian people.
Love Khmers