It was certainly a historic day in more ways than one.
On 10 March 2013, CALD Chair and Leader of the Cambodian Opposition Sam Rainsy met with his Burmese counterpart Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the first ever national congress of National League for Democracy (NLD) in Rangoon, Burma.
The day was made more memorable when the two opposition leaders had lunch together and discussed issues from elections and constitutional amendments to democratic transitions and national unity. The discussion on these issues centered on the experiences of Burma and Cambodia, to which Sam Rainsy remarked: “I told her that the situation in Cambodia is more complicated than in Burma. In Burma, all political leaders from all parties are arguably patriots and serve their country’s interest first. This is not the case for Cambodia where the ruling party was put in place by a foreign army, which indebted them to a neighboring country whose interest they have always to keep in mind.”
The contrast can also be seen in the stance of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Burmese President Thein Sein on political power. Hun Sen, 61, has ruled Cambodia since 1985 and has vowed to stay in power until he is 90. President Thein Sein, on the other hand, has said that he will step down if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wins the presidential election in 2015.
“When I told her that Cambodia is becoming the new pariah state of Southeast Asia, I saw in her smile the relief she must feel for Burma”, added Sam Rainsy.
Sam Rainsy was in Rangoon to represent CALD in the NLD’s historic congress. The congress, attended by around 894 delegates from around the country, reelected Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as chairperson. The gathering also expanded the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) from 7 members to 15, in an effort to infuse into the party new faces, expertise and diversity ahead of the 2015 general elections. The first meeting of the CEC was set after 8 April 2013, where specific responsibilities of CEC members and the coming elections will be discussed.
Commenting on what he would remember the most on the meeting, Sam Rainsy said that his encounter with the Nobel laureate reinforced his belief on non-violence and perseverance. He further remarked, “I was very impressed and touched by the generosity and the simplicity of my illustrious host. She didn’t know that it was my birthday. But I received from her a present that I value most, that nothing can buy: Inspiration.”
Categorised in: News Article
This post was written by CALD