Cambodian community to protest at City Council Meeting Today to Oppose Lowell-Battambang Sister-City Motion

Lowell city council will face the community’s reaction today at the council meeting regarding the motion filed by Mayor Sokhary Chau and councilor Paul Ratha Yem to establish a sister city with Battambang, Cambodia. In recent days in the middle of the Cambodian New Year celebration, two motions had been filed, one requesting a report regarding a sister-city MOU that was signed back in 2015 with Phnom Penh and the other requesting to establish a new one with Battambang city.

Venerable But Bunteng

At Wat Phnom Serei, the Buddhist temple in Ayer, in the middle of Cambodian celebration, there was an  announcement about these motions and people were invited to let their voice be heard on Tuesday April 25,  at the council meeting.

It was confirmed that several people have registered to speak, including School Committee member Susie Chhoun, exiled Deputy President of the opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party, Ms. Mu Sochua and Venerable But Bunteng. A crowd is expected to show up at the council meeting today to protest those motions and a petition also has been circulated.

In an interview by the opposition outlet Sun TV, Venerable But Bunteng, head-monk of Wat Phnom Serei, provided extensive comments about what the establishment of this Sister-City could mean for Lowell’s future and why he opposed it.

“The people do not want Lowell to associate itself with the “Bloody” city of Phnom Penh in which the blood of many honest and innocent Khmers was shed, such as that of labor leader Chea Vichea, and 2 of his successors in a row, an influential monk and Dr Kem Ley, and the many land evictees etc…. Therefore, it was not acceptable for a democratic city like Lowell to associate itself with Phnom Penh then, nor with Battambang now” he said.

In recent years, the U.S treasury black-listed many Cambodian senior officials from traveling to the U.S due high level of corruption, human rights violations, and land grabbings. “By establishing a Sister-City relationship, Lowell would open the door for members of Cambodia’s ruling party to inflow corrupt money to do business and trade in Massachusetts and strengthen their political base,” he said.

Follow Khmer Post USA live coverage tonight at the city council meeting at 6:30PM.