A Change of Guard

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Saturday, 31 October 2009

What is Mr. Sam Rainsy's main battle horse for the next election?

Below is Mr. Davan Long's reply to my op-ed titled "Rainsy’s publicity stunt carries a powerful political message".

Good observation Khmerization. The question is: will Mr. Sam Rainsy be able to make the issue his main battle horse for the next election, or is this just a one time show to offset PM Hun Sen mounting popularity during the recent spat with Thailand?


And below is my reply to Mr. Davan Long:

Dear Davan,

Good question. I think the opposition, especially Mr. Rainsy himself, had attempted to use the border issues on every election but they did not gain any ground on this issue for the simple reason that the country (from local to national level) and the election was tightly controlled by the ruling party. When the organiser of the election is also the candidate in that election, in this case we are talking about the ruling CPP, it is natural that it will win.

On the question of popularity, there is no question that Mr. Hun Sen has made use of the Preah Vihear issue shrewdly and made himself seen by many Khmers as the one leader who can stand up to Thai bully. Mr. Rainsy and the oppositions had not made use of this issue to any political advantage over the government because so far he and his party has been too silent on the issue.

In my previous op-ed, I have heavily criticised his party for being too silent on the issue. I hope he will realise that he can no longer remain silent any more because P. Vihear has been a very important issue for Cambodia. It is not an option for him to remain silent any longer.

However, while Mr. Rainsy has been silent on the Khmer-Thai borders, he has been very vocal about the Khmer-Vietnamese borders. His action on 25th of removing six illegal border poles is an example. I believe that this is not just a one off show, there will be more to come. But whether he can convert this issue to an election gain is another issue which remain to be seen.

When talking about election victory in Cambodia, one has to take into account that the election is organised by a biased electoral body, tightly controlled by the ruling party which itself is also a candidate in that election. As a result, the election victory cannot be measured correctly because it is not the true representation of the voters' will. Thanks. I appreciate your interests in my op-ed.


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