In “Rainsy Charged with Defamation Over Sihanouk Allegations” (March 31), it was reported that “the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has again charged opposition leader Sam Rainsy with defamation, following a complaint that he sullied National Assembly President Heng Samrin by claiming that the government he led in the 1980s had sentenced King Norodom Sihanouk to death.”
In my Facebook message posted on November 17, 2015, I was just referring to the “regime born on 7 January 1979,” without mentioning any name. January 7, 1979, marked the collapse of the Pol Pot regime following the invasion of Cambodia by the Vietnamese communist army, which installed in our country another communist regime under the name “People’s Republic of Kampuchea.”
The corresponding government at its initial stage (from 1979 to 1981) I was referring to was led by Pen Sovann, the most powerful Cambodian-born figure at that time, in his capacity as the first prime minister of the new regime and, more importantly in a communist system, as Secretary General of the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (the precursor of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party). Because of his most prominent historic role in that period, Pen Sovann is sometimes referred to as the “Father of 7 January (1979).”
Concerning the initiative to launch a lawsuit against me: If Pen Sovann does not have anything to say about my recent allegation, why should Heng Samrin? Nobody should be more communist or more eager to defend the People’s Republic of Kampuchea than Pen Sovann. Nobody should be more Catholic than the Pope or, as we say in French, more royalist than the King.
Heng Samrin, who is currently the president of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia, must first explain—from a legal and judicial point of view—why he would be personally entitled to sue me now. A formal public explanation on this point should be required before the court can proceed with Heng Samrin’s complaint. This necessary explanation would lead to a historical debate that the CPP obviously wants to avoid.
Concerning the substance of the lawsuit: Even though the People’s Republic of Kampuchea didn’t actually sentence our late King Norodom Sihanouk to death (it was the Lon Nol regime that did so in the early 1970s), it nevertheless seriously attacked, insulted and defamed him before killing him morally and politically by proclaiming their “Republic” in 1979.
Sam Rainsy is president of the opposition CNRP.
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