After some rather quiet time, the SRP is back in the news. I have been wondering about this, the more so as Sam Rainsy made an announcement in Paris a while back, in which he accused Bun Rany and Hun Sen of murder. Back in 1999, a very popular singer/actress was gunned down in broad daylight. Hun Sen was reputedly having an affair with her and, according to L’Express - a French newsmagazine, his jealous wife hired killers to put an end to the affair. Hun Sen was supposedly complicit in this. It should be noted, however, that there was never any concrete evidence. L’Express published allegations and assumptions, but could not provide any hard proof besides a diary. This latest accusation by Sam Rainsy did not make the headlines in Cambodia. Let sleeping dogs lie?
But now Sam Rainsy made another announcement that drew the PM’s ire. The SRP would boycott the budget deliberations and not even vote on it. It certainly is their right to boycott or not vote on it, but perhaps they should take another lesson in civics. They claim to be the only democratic party in Cambodia but seem to be rather ignorant of the role of an opposition party.
Last time I looked in other truly democratic countries, an opposition party’s function is to make opposite views heard in the forum of a parliament and in the media, put forth alternative solutions and resolutions, introduce laws they think are appropriate, and then vote on it. If they can’t get a majority to pass it, that’s too bad, but those are the rules by which parliaments work. Of course, if you only have 24 seats out of 120 there is practically no chance that you will ever get a majority for any proposal you introduce. But this is also a democratic principle. I can understand that they are pretty frustrated with all this, though.
Again, I grew up and lived in democratic countries, and had intensive civics lessons in school. If a party doesn’t like what’s going to be introduced as a law or in this case the budget, you vote against it. You do not show your displeasure by boycotting it in parliament. This is not a fundamentally democratic action. Either you are an MP or you should just not run or resign. SR wants to make the European parliament aware of the situation in Cambodia, reiterating the government’s mismanagement of funds, the prevailing corruption, and the generally dismal state of affairs in Cambodia. But at the same time, this party has not formulated one viable alternative plan or concept to bring about change in Cambodia. Time and again, they point at corruption at all levels of government as the greatest woe afflicting this country. No doubt it is prevalent, widespread, and probably unabated, never mind the office of the Anti Corruption Unit. Their work is the proverbial drop in the bucket. But boycotting parliament will not stamp out corruption, and trust me, the Europeans along with the U. S. definitely have different worries than looking at Cambodia to see whether the opposition party plays its democratic role or just flails its arms to make wind.
What I don’t understand is that this would provoke a constitutional crisis. Seven SRP MPs have resigned or will resign their seat under a party rotation policy. Parties in other countries have tried that too only to find out that it is not really workable. Given the SRP’s role in Cambodia, it is probably negligent in the great scheme of things. But those seats will be filled with party members from a list. Even if there were to resign at the time of the passage of the national budget, they CPP would still have their majority to pass it. The Assembly still has 120 seats, even if some seats are vacant. At the constituting session of this legislature, it had 120 elected members. If a party does not fill the seat it won at the election, it will just remain vacant.
It also appears somewhat nebulous how Sam Rainsy interprets the constitution. I believe he needs to take a few more civics lessons or at least consult with a competent constitutional attorney before making such, in essence, ridiculous announcements. Of course, thin-skinned Hun Sen as so oftern lost it and lashed out against him before analyzing the situation. It would not have been worth mentioning at all, just like the accusations he leveled at Hun Sen and his wife in Paris. These accusations sealed SR’s political fate in Cambodia once and for all. He is out of it, whether he realizes it or not. He seems to keep his head in the clouds not seeing that besides irritating Hun Sen from time to time, he is no longer a factor in Cambodian politics. Maybe that is why he comes forward with those half-baked pronouncements. Hasn’t he read the U. S. embassy cables dealing with him? You don’t have to be pro-CPP to be against Sam Rainsy and some of his party stalwarts. It is time that the good members leave the party and form their own new party that will have appeal to a broader base, similar to the SRP in its early days. It is time for Md. Mu Sochua to seriously think about this. Her talents are pretty much lost in that party. I am sure there are other intellectuals, emphasis on intellectual not business interests, that would find a home in that new party.