Exiled Cambodian opposition figurehead arrives in Malaysia

Cambodia’s opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy has lived in France since 2015 to avoid jail for convictions he says are politically motivated. (AP)
Updated 09 November 2019

Exiled Cambodian opposition figurehead arrives in Malaysia

  • Sam Rainsy has lived in France since 2015 to avoid jail for convictions he says are politically motivated
  • Dozens of activists have been rounded up in recent weeks in Cambodia

KUALA LUMPUR: Cambodia’s exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy arrived in Malaysia Saturday as he sought to return home to rally his supporters against strongman Hun Sen, while security was beefed up at the kingdom’s borders and in Phnom Penh.
Rainsy, who has lived in France since 2015 to avoid jail for convictions he says are politically motivated, has long promised a dramatic return on November 9, Cambodia’s Independence Day.
But Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985, has vowed to bar him and other exiled figures from his party — which was outlawed ahead of much-criticized elections last year.
Dozens of activists have been rounded up in recent weeks in Cambodia while the authoritarian leader has called on neighboring countries to help thwart the opposition’s attempts to return for what he has described as an attempted coup.
After being barred in Paris Thursday from getting on a flight to Thailand, Rainsy boarded a plane a day later and arrived at the main airport serving the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
A beaming Rainsy told his supporters to “keep up the hope” as he arrived, and that he was determined to get home.
“We are on the right track,” Rainsy, a founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told reporters at the airport.
“Democracy has prevailed in Malaysia, democracy will prevail in Cambodia.”
Malaysians ejected a corruption-plagued government that had ruled the country for over six decades in a historic election last year, and voted in a more reform-minded alliance.
The former finance minister and arch-rival to Hun Sen hopes his backers — including among the armed forces — can unite to topple the government and restore democracy to the poor Southeast Asian nation.
Still, the likelihood of him making it back to Cambodia appears slim. Neighboring Thailand’s premier has indicated he will not let Rainsy transit through the kingdom and observers believe he will first need to secure a deal with Hun Sen.
The strongman was not taking any chances, however.
In the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, dozens of riot police were deployed while army trucks lined the main road to the international airport.
Security was also ramped up at Thai-Cambodia border city of Poipet — seen as the most likely crossing point for Rainsy and other opposition figures if they try to come by land — with roads barricaded and lines of armed police standing guard.
Deputy of the now-dissolved CNRP, Mu Sochua, was also detained when she arrived in Malaysia this week following a request from Cambodian authorities but was released after less than 24 hours.
Malaysian authorities have indicated they will not forcibly deport her to Cambodia but she has until next week to leave the country.
The CNRP had been viewed as Cambodia’s only serious opposition before it was dissolved by a court in 2017 ahead of elections the following year.
That paved the way for the ruling Cambodia People’s Party to win all 125 parliamentary seats, turning the country into a one-party state.


Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

Updated 12 November 2019

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

  • Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the election
  • The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, a NCSC spokesman said

LONDON: Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,
“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.
The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defense systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.