Following ‘Confusion,’ CNRP Clarifies Position on Youth Activist

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann on Monday confirmed the authenticity of a statement released by the party on Saturday stating that the outspoken 19-year-old opposition activist Thy Sovantha is “not involved” with the CNRP.

“The CNRP would like to clarify that both letters of denial raised in the above story are official letters of the party,” Mr. Sovann wrote in a statement.

On Sunday, Mr. Sovann said that the statement, posted to the Facebook page of CNRP deputy director of public affairs Kem Monovithya, was fake, despite Ms. Monovithya claiming its authenticity.

“The different opinions raised in this story are a mix-up in communication,” the letter says.

Mr. Sovann declined to comment Monday on how the miscommunication occurred.

In an email sent Sunday night, Ms. Monovithya told a reporter: “If you want [the] full story on who Thy Sovantha really is, contact the page owner of I Love Cambodia Hot News,” along with contact information for Eng Ponlork.

Mr. Ponlork, who launched the I Love Cambodia Hot News Facebook page, which now has more than 283,000 followers, said that Ms. Sovantha, who previously helped manage the popular page, could no longer be trusted.

“Sovantha is still young…[she has] not passed the high school degree yet. So I am worried. I wonder that she is CPP spy,” Mr. Ponlork said.

Asked what evidence he had that Ms. Sovantha might be covertly working with the CPP, Mr. Ponlork pointed to the immense popularity of her personal Facebook page, created after she left I Love Cambodia Hot News in October.

“In just two months she gets 200,000 likes, if you just create a Facebook page…you cannot reach like that,” he said, adding that he believed that she was working together with Phe Sovannarith, a former CPP youth with a large Facebook following who publicly defected to the CNRP in the months following July’s election.

“I don’t know in the future what [the CPP] are going to do with Sovantha’s popularity, but…some CNRP members are very worried,” Mr. Ponlork said, adding that Ms. Monovithya was among a group of CNRP leaders who believed his theory, while Mr. Sovann and CNRP public affairs director Mu Sochua “don’t believe us.”

Ms. Sochua said Monday that the CNRP’s statement naming Ms. Sovantha was intended only to correct misinformation posted on the young activist’s widely read Facebook page about the party’s plans to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court.

“If we had another agenda we could have done it a long time ago,” Ms. Sochua said. “We can never—and don’t intend to—tell [Ms. Sovantha] what to do. But when she is using the name of CNRP, especially our president, we need to put the facts to the public,” Ms. Sochua said.

Ms. Sovantha could not be reached for comment Monday, but in posts to her Facebook page said she would continue to fight for the opposition despite the “slap” from the CNRP.

“When they slap my face, it hurts badly but I could tolerate it,” she wrote in a post. “Wanting to rescue the nation, [we] must dare to sacrifice with patience and courage.”

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