Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mu Sochua in the USA

Yesterday I met a family from Orgeon in the USA. They came in to buy a bag and while chatting with them I found out they are good friends with Mu Sochua, Cambodia's former Minister of Women's Affairs and her husband, who is a US citizen. Mu Sochua and her husband met while they were volunteering at the refugee camp in Aranyaprathet. The family actually stayed with Ms Sochua (pronounced "So-Ku-a", not "So-Ch-ua", as I always thought) in her home in...well, I won't disclose where, just that it's not in Phnom Penh.

The family told me Mu Sochua is now in the USA where she is among the guests of honour at a performance of the play "Seven", which depicts the lives of 7 amazing women, including Mu Sochua's. The women are all members of the Vital Voices network, a non-governmental organization which offers disadvantaged women training and the opportunity to become leaders. You can read here for CNN's coverage. There is also a Facebook group on "Seven" and it has updates on Ms Sochua current defamation suit against Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The family told me the Cambodian government lifted her immunity on Monday the 22nd, on the very day she was to fly to the US for the play. (Mu Sochua has a US passport as well as a Cambodian one as Cambodia (unlike Singapore) allows dual citizenship.) For the whole day she was kept in suspense as to whether she would be arrested on the way, or at, the airport. Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened.

The Phnom Penh Post reported last week that "The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, Rong Chhun, said parliamentary immunity would be worthless if it could be lifted so easily, and threatened mass protests if the Assembly went ahead with the move. "If Mu Sochua is arrested, we will lead mass demonstrations throughout the country with teachers and workers." Read the full report on ki-media.

I told the family Mu Sochua to me is Cambodia's Aung San Suu Kyi, a brave woman standing up for her people and the father said "I think she will like that you said that". I also told them to let Ms Sochua know she has supporters even among Singaporeans.

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