Prime Minister Hun Sen has donated $50,000 toward creating a $170,000 marble memorial in honor of Kem Ley in Takeo province, following public appeals by the murdered political analyst’s brother seeking financial assistance to cover funeral expenses and building costs.
Kem Rithisith said the money was handed over to him on Saturday by Lim Cheavutha, executive director of government-aligned Fresh News.
It is the second donation Mr. Rithisith has received from the prime minister. A $10,000 donation was made on July 15 to cover outstanding bills for the one-year anniversary of the analyst’s death on July 10, he said.
Mr. Rithisith said construction on the proposed 16-meter marble stupa began in May at his mother’s home in Tram Kak district’s Angtakob village in Leay Bor commune.
Mr. Cheavutha confirmed that he had passed on the donation to Mr. Rithisith but declined to comment on why he had been chosen as an intermediary, citing the website’s past coverage of Mr. Rithisith’s appeals as a possibility.
An outspoken political analyst, Kem Ley often spoke critically of those in power—leading many to believe his public execution-style killing at a gas station last July was politically motivated.
But the analyst’s brother said he was not concerned about how the public might perceive donations from the prime minister, and the committee was willing to accept assistance from all who loved Kem Ley.
“We don’t think about political party or any individual. We receive all,” Mr. Rithisith said, adding that the prime minister was an “ordinary” donor just like anyone else and that the family was happy to accept the contribution.
However, Sao Kosal, a member of the stupa committee, said he believed the prime minister’s donations served to further two goals: first to appear charitable and second to feign innocence.
Demands by the public and rights groups for an independent investigation into Kem Ley’s murder have been largely ignored by the government, further stoking public speculation that the administration was involved.
sony@cambodiadaily.com
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