|Khom Chandaraty, also known as Srey Mom, enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning in April. Pha Lina - ppp|
by School of Vice
This 'sex, lies, and tape' affair/ 'scandal' is hardly unexpected given that it has emanated from the CPP camp. Hun Sen had publicly threatened to disclose the recordings of Sokha [and other opposition leaders?] a while back, saying: 'We have the tapes!'. Hun Sen was hoping that this threat alone would be enough incentive for the opposition to bend to his demands and moderate their rhetoric against him. He had even revealed Mr. Rainsy's proposal on amending an article in the Constitution regarding border treaties/boundaries with neighbouring countries, and the latter's confirmation of this suggestion could only point to his naïveté and, and perhaps, personal arrogance or arbitrariness on matters as vital as this. On this revelation alone, and unintentionally, perhaps, Hun Sen has done the Khmer people and nation a valuable ‘favour’!
After all these decades of their political "struggle" waged against mankind's worst possible ‘Machiavellian’ [and I have in mind more than Hun Sen's personal acumen as a political operator in self-preservation and deception here; for behind him and his CPP structure, there's at least two thousand years of battle hardened experience and expertise in this field!] if these opposition figures still refuse or fail to have an accurate measure of their protagonists, then they have no one else to lay the blame on, and perhaps for everyone's sake, consider giving others within their rank a chance instead. Rainsy himself could still has his input with his counsel and recommendations where appropriate from behind the scene, and let the new group of leaders work their way forward in an open, transparent and democratic fashion.
Despite any of its short-comings, the Opposition still possesses the one paramount asset that the ruling party lacks: the national will and mood of the people. With this mood and aspirations, it could even take to and assume this solemn stance that all other liberation movements in history had done, that 'All national liberation struggles are destined to prevail!'. That iron will yet pragmatic conviction and attitude, instead of being repeatedly cowed into a position of seeming political cul de sac and be made to declare: 'We have no choice', and thus to make yet more self-harming concessions, will be the more practical way forward.
On the other hand, the need for a working ‘dialogue’, 'national reconciliation', 'peaceful non-violence' method, the magnanimous gesture of forgiveness, the role of compassion and so on, are not without their due place and weight in politics or a just cause. However, these qualities have their appropriate fitting and context, and the worst thing one could commit would be to apply any of these sentiments out of their relevant place and time, and to the terminal injury to the nation, which also involves lives and limbs.
One of the most admired and respected world leaders of the modern era, Nelson Mandela, fought white racism and supremacy [apartheid] with both these groups of human resources and qualities i.e. the intellect and the emotions. In 1964, Mandela was charged, [among other things] not with inciting and leading a non-violent unrest against the South African regime, but for his alleged involvement in 'terrorist activities' against the state. During his trial he had accepted this charge, but explained that the targets of such activities were not humans or civilians, but rather these had been confined to industrial plants and economic logistics only.
Branded a "terrorist", Mandela was nevertheless sentenced to imprisonment for the next twenty-seven years. Despite their lucrative economic ties to the South African regime and hence complicity, western governments had been forced by the public mood to apply [ironically enough] the kind of measures Mandela himself had approved of in his days as a young lawyer, and ones which amounted to his sentence and conviction: economic sanctions. Those industrial sabotage activities cited above were Mandela's form of 'economic sanctions' too. At least, it's what a poor people's liberation movement could afford! Mandela had also maintained [according to a number of media profiles on him] cordial ties with Cuba's Castro and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, among others ...
As for the on-going alleged sex scandal involving Kem Sokha [acting president of the CNRP] and a mistress that has been brought into media attention via the purportedly illegal recording of their affairs – the veracity of which is still open to doubt - both the timing and the manner in which this issue is whipped into a frenzied media circus, and in tandem with the recent spate of court summons issued against civil society figures, their subsequent arrests and detentions, all serve to illustrate the inherent malfunctioning and fundamental flaws within the heart of the country’s body politics; one where ‘democracy’ itself and the principle of a ‘multi-party’ arrangement figure only indistinctly somewhere on the horizon like a mirage. Where the ruling party is at liberty to dictate – in blatant infringement of both civil rights and immunity law or parliamentary protection bestowed on people’s elected law-makers – what appears a personal or private case and turned into a public ‘scandal’ agenda, that mirage of sanity and political ‘normality’ [if there’s such a thing in politics!] recedes even further away over the horizon.
Not that any act of infidelity on the part of an individual is in itself should be seen as immaterial or insignificant per se, both as this pertains to the private and public spheres, particularly, as the same indiscretion relates to public figures. In a saner context, Sokha could have done what others in similar circumstances had before him, including telling lies to the public, as the former US president Bill Clinton famously testified, insisting he had ‘… no sexual relations with that woman!’, and let the electorate reach their conclusions on the matter!
The Cambodian public may not be as well informed or as educated on the whole as their counterparts elsewhere, but even they could recognise instances of injustice when they see them with their own eyes and hear them with their own ears. Hun Sen has a long history of using crude tactics to have things done his own way. Often, these methods of his alternate between offering material bribe of some kind and a measure of threat or duress if the sweetening alone fails to bring about the compliance. He does this to even those subordinates of prominent rank within his narrow circle, forcing them to act against their own words and conscience. However, if the hope is that this staged scandal will have delivered a decisive blow; or even one serious enough to damage the opposition’s electoral appeal and credibility in the long run, it is clearly not panning out that way with the opposition’s standing, and Sokha’s, in particular, strengthened and, more dangerously, the public mood also becoming increasingly militant and politicised in the face of the perceived mistreatment.
We could only second guess or speculate as to what Hun Sen will resort to next, but his eventual opted course of action is unlikely to be anything radical or far off the accustomed methods outlined above.