Many SRP followers hailed Sam Rainsy’s recent ‘publicity stunt’ as a great call of awakening. They see this as an overdue calling attention to the Eastern border problems, which, in their opinion, is just as grave as the problem with Thailand. Needless to say, this is a great misjudgment of the situation.
Sam Rainsy’s actions, however, are nothing less than outright ludicrous. One can only ask oneself, ‘What was he thinking?’ One can understand the local villagers that want to take matters in their own hands in the face of a possible border violation by probably Vietnamese villagers on the other side. Whether or not the border markers were inside Cambodian territory, it certainly is not appropriate for the leader of the opposition to pull the posts out. Perhaps he got carried away. Perhaps he thought this was a good opportunity to get back into the headlines as it had become a little quiet about him in recent weeks. After all, Hun Sen had one scoop after another recently, what with his invitation and now appointment of Thaksin.
The issue with the border markers would ordinarily have been rather insignificant had it not been for Sam Rainsy’s activism. An opposition leader’s place is in the National Assembly and at the helm of his party. These are the venues where he can make speeches, denounce the government, and lay out his proposals. As an MP he is a member of the legislative body, not the executive. Border disputes clearly are within the responsibility and jurisdiction of the government. As a man who constantly calls for the rule of law, he should be the first to abide by it.
He did the same as the Red or Yellow shirts in Thailand. But these are what’s generally called extra-parliamentary opposition. They can stage demonstrations, hold sit-ins, mass-rallys, or whatever else pleases them, in order to make their point of view known. They can also resort to civil disobedience. A member of parliament’s weapons are his or her voice, and his or her legislative actions. If they want to use the tools of the extra-parliamentary opposition, they should join them and resign from their seat in the National Assembly. That would be the right thing to do. Who knows, a career change might do wonders for his future.