Opposition CNRP leader Sam Rainsy paid a surprise visit to Phnom Penh’s Tuol Tompoung market in Chamkar Mon district Monday, chatting with vendors, purchasing fish and even giving $25 to an elderly peanut seller to help her small business.
“I wanted to visit the vendors to understand their economic situation and living standards because they are CNRP supporters,” Mr. Rainsy said after the visit.
“I didn’t tell the local authorities I planned to come because I was worried they would try and prevent me from meeting supporters. They have often interrupted us when we’ve tried to meet people,” he added.
However, while there were security guards deployed at the entrances to the market, Mr. Rainsy was left to chat with vendors unimpeded.
A video of the visit posted to Mr. Rainsy’s Facebook page showed the opposition leader, flanked by several bodyguards, posing for photos with smiling vendors, cooing over a baby, greeting surprised tourists and inquiring about the fish for sale.
Tol Pin, 75, who sells peanuts from a basket in Toul Tompong market, said Mr. Rainsy had given her $25 to expand her business.
“I welcomed him when he visited and I gave him a blessing for a long life and asked him to help the poor people and rescue the country,” she said.
Last week, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong ordered City Hall officials to monitor the companies that run the city’s markets, as they often overcharged vendors their daily rate. Mr. Socheatvong’s move came under direct instructions from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has recently made reforming corruption in markets one of his key issues.
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