…you can’t hope to win more seats in the upcoming election, let alone dream of winning it. The latest flap, whether manipulated or true, came when the CPP played snippets of a recorded speech Kem Sokha made. He claimed that the Vietnamese fabricated all or part of the story of the Tuol Sleng prison; at least according to those snippets. (If I remember correctly, the Americans tried to do the same after the Vietnamese had invaded, sorry, liberated Cambodia.)
No matter what he said, even if it were in another context and how long ago it was, it’s bad news. Politicians must be aware that their opponents will seize on each and every opportunity to paint the bleakest picture of them. Election campaigns are just like the Internet; it brings out the worst in people. Kem Sokha really does come across as a political amateur, too.
The top candidate of that new party is, of course, Sam Rainsy, never mind that he cannot stand for office, that he is abroad, is not allowed to return and is not on the official election roll. Whether this is based on a wrongful conviction in a ‘kangaroo’ court, or has legal merit, is not for this blogger to decide. In the end the reality remains that he cannot win an Assembly seat. That spot could have been allocated to another candidate, given the slim chances of increasing their number of seats, which is highly doubtful by any stretch of imagination.
Then there is that merger of SRP and Human Rights Party. Not too long ago these two parties were at loggerheads over policy, name of party, etc., but in the end they thought their combined efforts could turn the tide. How they arrived at that conclusion will remain their secret in light of their present weak position. Bundling their efforts appears futile and will most certainly not result in gaining more seats; mind you, the SRP currently holds 24 and the HRP just 3 seats out of 124 total. They have no support in the media as most of them lean towards the CPP out of self-interest. Obviously, they have no large campaign coffers either. So how can they ever hope to break the CPP’s two-thirds majority?
The choice of the new name for the party is somewhat odd too, at least to some observers – the National Rescue Party. If ever there was an ineptly chosen party name, this is it. The dictionary defines it like this: Rescue comprises responsive operations that usually involve the saving of life, or prevention of injury during an incident or dangerous situation.
The party stalwarts may have thought of rescuing Cambodia from the pernicious grasp of the ruling party. I am not so sure whether the name really resonates very much with the people. After all, life for most of them has improved, whether or not the government’s critics like it. Yes, there are still way too many conflict situations regarding land grabbing, evictions by unconscionable ELC holders, etc. Even the U. N. rapporteur stated that the overall situation has improved, albeit in small steps, and a lot still needs to be done. And lo and behold, the power outages have decreased considerably and come election time, the EDC promises those will be a thing of the past. (In the rural town where I have a house that was afflicted with daily 9 to 15 hour outages, they have disappeard since the Khmer New Year.)
So ‘rescue’ really does seem like an inept word. Perhaps Cambodian Party for Social Justice, or a similar less catastrophe-laden name would have been a better choice. Although Prince Thomico of the royal household joined that party, another prominent member of the SRP, Mu Sochua, remains surprisingly quiet. Maybe she is not too happy with all the recent events, and possibly with Kem Sokha being the vice-president.
So what it all boils down is that this election will be no different from the last one: The CPP will maintain, if not increase, their hold on power, the opposition will promptly cry foul, claiming that the election was not free and fair, whether true, half-true, or untrue, and Hun Sen will enter his 29th (is it?) year in power.