It appears as though the government always has the innate need to threaten legal action against anyone who in their opinion uses words that seem to criticize them.
The latest case in point was a press conference held by the spokesman for the Ministry of Labor. There is an ongoing discussion about the minimum wage for garment workers with the labor unions. Some of the unions used terms like living wage or minimum wage. Now this obviously very bright spokesman stated that anybody who uses the wrong terminology will have to face legal action. For what I don’t know. What kind of wrong terms can one use in this context? He did not really elaborate on this. One can only presume they want to warn off the union members to go on strike which might turn violent again as in January 2014.
Another example is a speech the PM gave recently. It is a well-known fact that the he often resorts to crude language and threats when dealing with the opposition or anybody who dares to voice even the mildest criticism.
He said if the opposition won the next elections and would act on their plans to reclaim land lost to neighboring countries and redistribute land owned by rich people, they would provoke a war. They would have powerful enemies indicating well-heeled people in the audience. He intimated that they would not stand for it, and neither would the neighboring countries, alluding to the past allegations about Vietnam’s encroachment on Cambodian territory. These ‘enemies’ would protect their rights and holdings. He said that these tycoons are the opposition’s class enemy and taking away their hotels and giving them to the poor would provoke a war. Class enemies –isn’t that a term out of a Communist textbook?
He also referred to the current refugee crisis in Europe saying that the people left Syria, Iraq, and Libya because there is war, there are color revolutions, a desire for change. He must have gotten that wrong somehow. The people are leaving because of religious civil wars raging in these countries (Sunnis and Shiites – ISIS). In none of those countries did a color or peaceful revolution happen. That was the Ukraine before they had their own civil war. These people do want change, that’s for sure, but they want change from autocratic governments and a change in their lives so they can live peacefully. He seemed to imply that Cambodia might undergo the same problems if the opposition won.
The PM also referenced an interview in which Sam Rainsy said the PM wants to avoid the fate of Muhamar Ghaddafi. If he wants to topple him by a military coup Sam Rainsy should reserve a coffin. A very statesman like statement.
One might really conclude from all these statements that he must really be fearful of losing the next election. Why else would he conjure up war? It is as if he is trying to intimidate the entire population by playing on their fears?
Another fall-out from speeches and press conferences like this is the damage to the government’s image, maybe not so much at home but definitely abroad. After all Cambodia is still very much dependent on foreign aid, to the tune of approximately $800 million a year to be exact. Why portray an image of a bully, although that characterization has clung to him for a long time. If the ruling party has a strong base within the population they don’t need to resort to these crude tactics. They could just let the image of a benevolent, caring government work for them. After all, this is what they think of themselves.
He chastised developed nations for not giving enough foreign aid to developing nations. A little ironic seeing as Cambodia itself is a major recipient of foreign aid. However, without that aid Cambodia would not be able to pay for many budget items, such as its security forces. A better image would behoove him well with the donor nations one might think. The donor nations overlooked many negative things in the past because any cuts in aid would affect the population in their opinion. Let’s not talk about corruption in this context though and where a lot of that money is spent. He also repeated that request in a speech at the U. N. later. One can only wonder how much resonance this request elicited among the countries that fall short of those goals, e. g. the U. S.
Intrinsically, however, the PM is dead right. If the opposition were to win the next election and embarked on some of the plans, specifically seriously combating corruption, review of land property, sources of income of the rich in the public and private sectors, etc., they would not survive long. The rich and powerful are too deeply entrenched and have a wide network of cronies in place, not the least the many generals who would also stand to lose quite a lot, to accept any meddling in their affairs. A coup would not be unthinkable in that event, or would it? But I am sure the opposition realizes this without any of the warnings and threats. Before the PM left for New York he told the armed forces to look after Cambodia while he was gone. That pretty much says it all. He controls the military, he has the power, and as long as this remains like this, there won’t be a change of government.
On the other side of the aisle, so to speak, Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha visited a Cham community the other day. Kem Sokha said there is no racial discrimination in Cambodia. Sam Rainsy supported this remark explaining there is no xenophobia only apprehension about the loss of land that has been going for so long. This was quite obviously in response to the PM’s statement to the new U.N. Human Rights Rapporteur that she should focus on racial discrimination in Cambodia. This should certainly be one point in any effort for reforms in Cambodia. But the claim that there is no racial discrimination is absurd, especially coming from such prominent proponents of anti-Vietnamese campaigns as Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha. They use every opportunity to raise the subject of Vietnamese encroachment, illegal Vietnamese immigrants, and illegal Vietnamese voters rigging the elections in the CPP’s favor to foment racial resentment among the population. Reading or hearing this, one cannot help but think of them as self-serving, sanctimonious hypocrites and opportunists. Sam Rainsy had seriously claimed in one of the past election campaigns that the rapid increase of the population was because of all those illegal Vietnamese immigrants - unproven and outright false. How is that for fomenting racial discrimination?
Sometimes Sam Rainsy was called charismatic. How on earth did he ever attain that attribute?