The cat is out of the bag, so to speak. Some people may say this has been known a long time, but I think it has never been stated more unequivocally than recently. I am talking about the Prime Minister’s remark ostensibly directed at Sam Rainsy. This was reported in the press: “ I’m the only person who can order all the types of armed forces, and if I really die, you must pack your bags and run away … because no one can control the armed forces. It is an idiot who prays for Hun Sen’s death.”
This statement is not only unambiguous about today’s situation implying that Hun Sen is actually indispensable, irreplaceable really. It is also very intriguing for its insinuation what would happen if Hun Sen is no longer around, be it because of death or because he was defeated in an election. The implication is that the military would stage a coup returning either the CPP to power or maintain a status very similar to Thailand’s at the present time. His warning implicitly says that Sam Rainsy and his party stalwarts are better off with him and better come to an agreement with him. The current state of affairs could become permanent as obviously there is no need for an opposition that has not taken their seats in the assembly. Certain circles might even be tempted to think that no further elections are necessary as the opposition will boycott the results anyway.
Another conclusion might be that even if the CNRP were to win the next election they could be unseated very quickly by the same means used in Thailand. The CNRP always points to foreign governments how they would condemn any more illegal maneuvers on the CPP’s part. But they should look at Thailand. Nobody even lifts a finger in support of any particular party there.
The powers that be are so entrenched in Cambodia that anything that would run counter to their interests would eventually lead to a clash with a CNRP government and their reforms. This clash can only end in a coup d’etat.
The road to reform is long, hard, and arduous; it must be navigated with circumspection and a willingness to tread lightly. Sam Rainsy just might not be the right person for that.