Sam Rainsy

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For the Cambodian political party, see Sam Rainsy Party.
Sam Rainsy
សម រង្ស៊ី

Sam Rainsy speaking.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
November 30, 1998 (1998-11-30)
Prime Minister Hun Sen
Deputy Kem Sokha
Preceded by Hun Sen
President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party
Assumed office
July 17, 2012
Vice President Kem Sokha
Preceded by Position established
President of the Sam Rainsy Party
In office
1995 – July 17, 2012
Vice President Kong Korm
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Kong Korm
Member of Parliament for Kampong Cham
Siem Reap (1993–1998)
Assumed office
July 2, 1993
Minister of Economy and Finance
In office
September 24, 1993 – October 24, 1994
Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh
Succeeded by Keat Chhon
Personal details
Born (1949-03-10) March 10, 1949 (age 65)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Nationality  Cambodian
Political party Cambodia National Rescue Party (2012–present)
Other political
Sam Rainsy Party (1998–2012)
Khmer Nation Party (1995–98)
FUNCINPEC (1981–94)
Spouse(s) Tioulong Saumura (m. 1971)
Children Patrice
Parents Sam Sary
In Em
Alma mater University of Paris
Profession Politician
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Website Sam Rainsy Party
Sam Rainsy (Facebook)

Sam Rainsy (Khmer: សម រង្ស៊ី IPA: [sɑːm reə̯̆ŋsiː]; born March 10, 1949) is a Cambodian politician, currently serving as the Leader of the Opposition. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1993, representing Siem Reap from 1993 to 1998 and Kampong Cham from 1998 onwards. The leader and co-founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Rainsy was previously a member of the royalist Funcinpec Party and served as the Minister of Economy and Finance during Norodom Ranariddh's administration from 1993 to 1994. In 1995, he founded the Khmer Nation Party (KNP), which changed its name before the 1998 elections to the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) to avoid registration issues.[1]

Sam Rainsy went into self-imposed exile on February 3, 2005, citing fear of arrest after a vote in the National Assembly removed parliamentary immunity from himself and fellow SRP MPs Chea Poch and Cheam Channy.[2] Rainsy faced multiple criminal defamation charges after accusing the Cambodian People's Party and Funcinpec of corruption in the formation of the current coalition government. He has also accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of involvement in the 2004 murder of SRP-affiliated union leader Chea Vichea.

In September 2010, Rainsy was tried in absentia and sentenced to 10 years in prison for charges widely believed to be politically motivated.[3] In 2012, the Sam Rainsy Party merged with the Human Rights Party to from the Cambodia National Rescue Party. Following his resignation from the Sam Rainsy Party to lead the newly-formed opposition party, Kong Korm succeeded him as party leader in November 2012. On July 12, 2013, King Norodom Sihamoni granted a royal pardon to Rainsy at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen, allowing the opposition leader to return to Cambodia without threat of imprisonment, although he remained ineligible for candidacy in the 2013 general election.[4] Rainsy returned to Cambodia on July 19, 2013 where thousands of his supporters waited along the roads.[5] The CNRP gained 55 seats in the National Assembly although Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha have denied these results and accused the ruling party of poll fraud.[6] The opposition boycotted parliament in September 2013,[7] and vows not to lift the boycott until a legitimate electoral reform.[8] A deal was reached between the governing and opposition parties on July 22, 2014, ending the CNRP's parliamentary boycott. Opposition lawmakers were formally sworn in on August 5, 2014 at the Royal Palace.[9]

Cambodian political career and political past[edit]

Sam Rainsy leads supporters to submit petitions to Western embassies calling for an independent investigation into alleged election irregularities, Phnom Penh, 24 October 2013.

Sam Rainsy was born in Phnom Penh on March 10, 1949. He moved to France in 1965, studied there and then worked as an investment manager and executive director in a variety of Parisian financial companies.[10] He became a member of the Funcinpec Party, and after returning to Cambodia in 1992 was elected a member of parliament for Siem Reap Province the following year. He became Minister of Finance, but was expelled from the party after losing a vote of no-confidence in 1994. In 1995, he founded the Khmer Nation Party (KNP), which changed its name before the 1998 elections to the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) to avoid registration issues.[1] In the 2003 elections, it polled 22% of the vote.

At that time, the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh said it was "deeply concerned" that the government appeared to be trying to "silence the opposition". Other embassies, local and international organizations shared the same concerns. Sam was tried in absentia on 22 December 2005 in relation to the defamation lawsuits. The court sentenced him to 18 months in prison and ordered him to pay around US$14,000 in fines and compensation. On 5 February 2006, Rainsy received a Royal Pardon by King Norodom Sihamoni at Prime Minister Hun Sen's request. He then returned to Cambodia on 10 February 2006.

In October 2009, Rainsy led local residents at the Cambodia-Vietnam border in a protest against alleged Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory, in which he was alleged to have encouraged villagers to uproot border markings he claimed to have been illegally placed by Vietnam. In 2009, Vietnam’s foreign ministry condemned Sam Rainsy’s actions and asked the government to protect the nations’ ongoing border demarcation process. The statement called Sam Rainsy’s act "perverse, undermining common assets, violating laws of Cambodia and Vietnam, treaties, agreements and deals between the two countries".

On October 25, Rainsy was charged with racial incitement and destruction of property, and the Cambodian parliament stripped Rainsy of his immunity from prosecution in November. Rainsy was issued a summons to appear in court for a hearing. On January 1, 2010, the Svay Rieng provincial court issued an arrest warrant for Rainsy after he failed to appear in court. Rainsy had fled the country at this point and was residing in France in self-imposed exile. He was pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni in July 2013[4] and returned to Cambodia on July 19, 2013.[5]

In April 2014, Rainsy talked on the phone with Prime Minister Hun Sen, regarding the political deadlock which had gripped Cambodia since July 2013. Rainsy and Sen reached an agreement to hold early polls in February 2018 instead of the usual elections in July. The deal will be signed before the King but the opposition leader said it was only "80 percent completed" and had to wait for his deputy Kem Sokha to return from the United States.[11] But CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha disagreed with the deal, saying he wants early polls to be held by 2016.

Commenting on the situation of Australia paying Cambodia money for bringing its political refugees to Cambodia for resettlement, which has been deemed 'controversial' by human rights groups, Sam Rainsy in his role of political opposition leader in Cambodia commented: 'Cambodia is one of the world's most corrupt countries. This government has made Cambodia one of the world's poorest countries. So any money, especially from any foreign source, would be diverted and channeled into the pocket of our corrupt leaders with very little, if any, benefit to the ordinary people.'[12]


Sam Rainsy at Phnom Penh International Airport in March 2014.

Sam Rainsy's father, Sam Sary had served as a minister in the Education, planning and finance portfolios before becoming a Deputy Prime Minister in Sihanouk's government in the 1950s. Sam Rainsy's mother, In Em was quoted to be the first Cambodian woman to have completed the Baccalauréat exam. Sam Sary fled the country in 1959 when Sam Rainsy was ten for suspected involvement in the Bangkok Plot, while his mother was thrown into prison. Sam Rainsy's grandfather, Sam Nhean had served as the President of the Royal Council of Cambodia and was a prominent member of the Democratic Party in the 1940s.[10]

Sam Rainsy is married to Tioulong Saumura (since 1971), who is also member of parliament for his current party, and has three children: Patrice Sam, Muriel Sam and Rachel Sam. Tioulong Samura's father, Nhiek Tioulong was a military general who founded the Khmer Renovation party and briefly served as an Acting Prime Minister in 1962. Both Sam Rainsy and his wife claim to have Chinese ancestry, the former having revealed that one of his great-great grandfathers was a Chinese immigrant,[13][14] while Nhiek Tioulong revealed that he had a Chinese grandfather during a dialogue session with Zhou Enlai in 1954.[15]

University degrees[edit]

  • Economics (Science Po)
  • Business Administration (Master of Business Administration from INSEAD - Fontainebleau - France) - 1980.
  • Accounting (Diplôme d'Etudes Comptables Supérieures issued by the French Ministry of Education) - 1979.
  • Economics (Maîtrise + Diplôme d'Etudes Supérieures de Sciences Economiques de la Faculté de Droit et des Sciences Economiques de Paris) - 1973.
  • Political Science (Diplôme de l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris) - 1971.


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ Cambodia: Opposition Politicians Arrested, Forced to Flee, February 7, 2005, Human Rights Watch
  3. ^ "Cambodia: Opposition Leader Convicted in Absentia". The New York Times. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Vong Sokheng (18 July 2013). "NEC reiterates Rainsy’s ineligibility". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Opposition leader Sam Rainsy returns to Cambodia". BBC News. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Cambodian opposition rejects Hun Sen election win". The Telegraph. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "King Convenes Cambodia's Parliament Amid Opposition Boycott". Radio Free Asia. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Heng Reaksmey and Men Kimseng (7 March 2014). "Opposition Standing Firm on Election Reform Demand". Voice of America. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Meas, Sokchea and Ponniah, Kevin (August 6, 2014). "Opposition take oaths before king". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Brown, Zasloff (1998), p. 240
  11. ^ "Hun Sen Agrees to Hold Early Election, Wants Deal Signed Before King". Radio Free Asia. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Retrieved May-21-2014
  13. ^ Sam Rainsy urges Cambodia to support China's claims to South China Sea, 24 January 2012, The Cambodia
  15. ^ Bulletin: Inside China's Cold War – Document No. 79, Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Cambodian Foreign Minister Tep Phan (Summary), 20 July 1954


External links[edit]