GDP Leader Defects, Calls on PM to Resolve Farmers’ Issues

The head of the Grassroots Democratic Party has left the party to join Prime Minister Hun Sen to work in the agriculture sector to help resolve the challenges farmers face
GDP’s Chairman Yang Saing Koma (left) poses for picture with Prime Minister Hun Sen, November 28, 2022. Kiripost via SPM Page
GDP’s Chairman Yang Saing Koma (left) poses for picture with Prime Minister Hun Sen, November 28, 2022. Kiripost via SPM Page

The leader of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) has defected to join Prime Minister Hun Sen to work in the agriculture sector because he wants to resolve the issue of farmers' development.

GDP’s Chairman Yang Saing Koma did not respond to Kiripost’s request for comment, however, according to a nearly 20-minute video on November 28, he met informally with Dith Tina, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to discuss his plan to resolve farmers’ problems of low rice prices.

He added that Tina agreed and wanted to follow his plan but he should join the party first. Koma said that he had made 12-point proposals in the project to solve the rice problem, and Tina agreed with him.

“He wanted me to go to that project, and I also intend to agree to the project, but first I was willing to leave the party to become an independent or professional officer, but later he (the Minister) said that until I join the political life with the party (CPP), I do not have the authority to hold that job,” Koma said.

Cambodian Rice Crowned World’s Best

Koma said that he had intended to officially announce his resignation on December 2 after meeting Hun Sen; however, he had no idea how his letter to Hun Sen was leaked to the media on Sunday, causing surprise and shock to his supporters.

“I think it has to be two steps. First, I would like to meet with the prime minister to discuss my plan to get support. Second, if he agrees, I will officially announce it on December 2. But sadly, I do not know why the letter I prepared was published to the public at that time,” he added.

He said that he requested the meeting with Hun Sen to discuss his intentions, because as the head of the government, he has the right to agree on what he plans to do in the framework of agriculture.

“If not, I do not want to be in power in any position in the government, I have a specific job that I think fits my interests and experience.”

According to Hun Sen’s Facebook page, Koma met the Prime Minister on Monday, along with Tina and GDP’s spokesman Loek Sothea, who has also defected.

Koma said that due to the recurring problems of farmers, it is in line with his passion to be able to work and help the rice production chain related to the second seed, community planning, warehousing, community rice collection, investment and discussions with relevant ministries.

“In fact, I resigned from the party (GDP), and we had an internal discussion about what to do to choose my successor. I planned to take a break from the board of directors, I planned to take a break two months ago. I would like to inform you that I have the intention and the experience with knowledge since I was in an organization to help Cambodian farmers,” he said.

“I have no intention other than to have knowledge and experience to help some Cambodian farmers, but if I cannot afford it, cannot have any necessary conditions to do that work, I do not participate.”

Theng Savoeun, director of the NGO Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, said this is the right of choice to be willing to mobilize, contributing to solving agricultural problems that are protracted or not, not important on skills, profession or knowledge.

“We look at the rationale, the political environment, we look at the atmosphere of favorable strategy and decision-making, the right to perceive the strategy of settlement, even if you have the knowledge, but when it comes to work, there is no change in the strategy the solution and willingness to solve this problem is also impossible,” Savoeun said.

He added that solving problems in the agricultural sector in Cambodia cannot rely on agricultural officials or agricultural experts alone, but depends on stakeholders, including the private sector, producers, buyers and investors.

Im Rachana, a former journalist at Radio France International and now a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Agriculture, told Kiripost on Monday that after the defections of Koma and Sothea to the CPP, both of them will be working in the Ministry with Tina who will decide the appropriate responsibilities for them according to their capabilities and potentials.