KUALA LUMPUR: A senior Cambodian opposition figure was detained in Malaysia as she tried to fly home for the planned return of her exiled party leader, a rights group said Thursday, in another win for strongman Hun Sen.
Members of the opposition are trying to get back to Cambodia to support their leader, Sam Rainsy, who wants to make a dramatic end to his exile this weekend to mark Cambodian Independence Day.
However, Hun Sen, an authoritarian leader who has ruled Cambodia since 1985, has vowed not to allow Rainsy to return and sought support from regional neighbors to thwart the opposition’s plans.
Mu Sochua, deputy leader of Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was held at Kuala Lumpur airport late Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said.
Sochua had flown in from Jakarta in neighboring Indonesia, where the Cambodian ambassador had stormed a press conference she was giving and attempted to get the event canceled.
HRW Asia deputy director Phil Robertson told AFP that her detention was “absolutely ludicrous and unacceptable”. “She’s done nothing wrong and should be immediately released, and allowed to undertake the consultations she planned with the Malaysia government and civil society groups,” he said.
“Malaysia should stand up to Cambodia’s bullying of its regional neighbors to do Phnom Penh’s dirty work in cracking down against the opposition CNRP exiles.”