|[Kem Sokha and Hun Sen on the way to Assembly Session, Image from Facebook]|
By Khmer Wathanakam
Over the past year, political atmosphere has been heated up caused by one man, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has clung to power more than 30 years and continues to hold it tightly regardless of what may happen. To maintain his power grip, Hun Sen has shamelessly used his dirty tricks to assassinate his opponents, to imprison, to force into exile, to insult, to threaten, and to break up their unity, and to confuse the situation prior to election seasons. Hun Sen will be sleepless, if he perceives his opponents are stronger and more popular than him. In order to stay on top of his opponents, he has to create rain and storm to weaken and destroy them in any circumstance. A murder of Dr. Kem Ley, an exile of CNRP leader, Sam Rainsy, the imprisonment of CNRP's senator Hong Sokhour and CNRP's MP Oum Som Ann along with other activists, the human right activists, NEC deputy secretary general, violent mob against two CNRP's MPs, and a plotted sex scandal against Kem Sokha are the most important political events that have been orchestrated by Hun Sen this year. Although Kem Sokha and CNRP's commune chief, Mr. Seang Chet, have been freed, there are many more political prisoners still in jail, and the government failed to investigate Dr. Kem Ley's murder case that now falls into a pattern of numerous murder cases previously that they have never found a real murderers to justice. The current detente won't last longer the same as previous ones, but it will open an opportunity for CNRP to negotiate with Hun Sen in order to release its activists, human right defenders, and the other political prisoners.
There is nothing new and surprised that Hun Sen promptly released Mr. Kem Sokha and Mr. Seang Chet simultaneously, for he is the one who was behind this issue. And Hun Sen has enormous power to throw any one into jail or to release them on his will. As he declared that if CNRP was quiet and did not mention about international pressure on him, he might release more CNRP and human right activists, otherwise they would stay in jail until the end of their term. Hun Sen repeatedly warned that they have to read his behavior carefully. This Hun Sen's tirade just indicates that he is the man who can make rain and storm in Cambodia politics. He can point his finger at any one to go to jail, to go in exile, or to be killed as Dr. Kem Ley if he wants to. No one can stop or check his undeserved power, since he has controlled all national institutions which should be independent according to the constitution---court, ACU, police, military, finance, and so forth.
Although Kem Sokha has been free, he is not out of hook yet. He was released only on charge of failure to show up in court, but he still faces more pending lawsuits from two disgrace young women--Thy Sovanntha and Srey Mom who had filed defamation lawsuits against Kem Sokha, demanding compansation1 million dollar and 300,000 dollar separately. Even if those cases seen as the fabricated ones when the Facebook leak clearly showed that Hun Sen funded Thy Sovantha's activities one million dollar to break up and destroy CNRP leadership. And no one can guarantee that Kem Sokha would win those cases if he will be placed on trial again, for every one know well that the court handle sentences based on Hun Sen's will or his order. In the future, if Kem Sokha dares to criticize Hun Sen's government policies and dictatorship rule, those case against Kem Sokha will be ordered to reopen. This is a trick that Hun Sen has used against his opponents over the past 30 years. For instance, Sam Rainsy was pardoned to return to participate in the 2013 election, but when Sam Rainsy made Hun Sen unhappy, Hun Sen ordered his court to reopen the old verdict case: Hor Nam Hong vs. Sam Rainsy to arrest Sam Rainsy if he dared to return to the country from South Korea, that forced him to flee the country in the third time. Though Sam Rainy is in exile, he is still facing more multiple lawsuits brought up by Hun Sen and other CPP's leaders.
Now even if political atmosphere has cooled down a bid, the CNRP is still facing more obstacles to come especially, as election season is approaching. The two CNRP leaders are still surrounded with many multiple defamation lawsuits and many CNRP and human right activists are still in jail. If Hun Sen has a good will to solve problems between Khmer and Khmer without pressure from international community, he must release all CNRP and human right activists without condition, and all verdicts and pending lawsuits against Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha must be dropped, allowing Sam Rainsy to return to participate in the upcoming election fully and freely. But if Hun Sen doesn't renounce his old trick, the current detente will end in the next couple months when commune election campaign starts to kick in. Over 30 years on power, Hun Sen should feel enough; he should loosen his power grip and allowing equal opportunity and playing field for his opponents to compete with him in a free and fair election. when any one loses, he or she loses with confidence and dignity, and also the winner will win with respect and dignity with warm welcome and congratulation from his opponents. Over the past 30 years, Cambodia election result had been welcomed with mass protests from the people and bloody crackdown by the winner. And this pattern of post-election violence will happen again and again if Hun Sen does not allow equal playing field on election process but to use violent forces to subdue election protests and to force the people to accept the result that did not reflect to their will.
For CNRP, now political atmosphere is more favorable, and they should use this time to strengthen and unify the party, focusing on winning the upcoming election rather than wasting time compromising or attacking the ruling party on border issue that draws counter productive for the party. Hong Sokhour and Oum Sam Ann were in jail because of their criticism on border issues, and now Sam Rainsy is more likely to recognize Hun Sen's proposal on changing border map co-ordinate from 1/100000 to 1/50000. Even though the changing is solely a technical issue, CNRP should not touch with that sensitive issue, but let Hun Sen and the CPP do it by themselves. The border demarcation with Vietnam is defected and unlawful from the beginning since Hun Sen did not use the Paris Peace Accord as a tool to negotiate with Vietnam, instead he used the old treaties with Vietnam between 1979-89 along with 2005 extra-treaty to delineate the border posts which totally violates the principle of the Paris Peace Accord that required Cambodia to rescind all previous treaties. Thus, the CNRP can't do any thing on this issue unless they run the country. When CNRP win the power, this border issue can be solved more fruitful and less controversial by using the Paris Peace Accord as a principle to negotiate with Vietnam. Any area where both parties can't agree on it, just leave it out for future negotiation. Many countries in the world have the same border disputes like us, but they decided to leave it out for more future negotiation rather than settling for less--India-Pakistan, Russia-Japan, China-Vietnam, China-Japan, Israel-Syria, Britain-Argentina, Britain-Spain, and so forth. However, if CNRP win the next election, they will face with numerous issues to solve not only border issue, but: illegal immigrants, corruption, to insure independence of all national institutions, land grabs, unemployment, migration workforce... so the party should focus on winning election and get ready to run and reform the most corrupt and bureaucratic country on earth.
Now, Kem sokha was appointed to replace Sam Rainsy as the minority leader in the parliament, a title equal to prime minister based on the previous agreement paper. Nevertheless, Hun Sen's goal in promoting Kem Sokha is to split the CNRP's leaders. But Kem Sokha should use this opportunity and title to negotiate with Hun Sen to release all CNRP and human right activists including secured a safe path for a return of Sam Rainsy before the upcoming election. So far,we hope Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy have learn Hun Sen's behavior and tricks more deeply and clearly, and never let themselves fall into Hun Sen's trap again by observing a realpolitik--to practice politics based on a real situation in a particular place or country. In this sense, we can't do politics in Cambodia the same as they do in Europe or in the US. Be more flexible and adaptive to a constant changing of political environment, otherwise you will be crushed again. Hun Sen never changes his behavior and renounce violence, so CNRP should learn how to deal with him in a clever way: avoiding provocative speech, set priority for the party's policies, learn to speak one language based on the party's policies. It's was very embarrassing for CNRP when Mr. Sam Rainsy, Mr. Tach Sitha, and Prince Tomaco from the same party argued with one other on border issue on RFA. This kind of argument should not be in public; it only hurt the party image and show disunity in the party, and gives Hun Sen an opportunity to fully exploit the situation. Since the beginning of negotiation for Paris Peace Accord in late 1980s, Hun Sen has outwitted all his opponents through violent and non-violent means, and now it's time to outwit him and don't let him make rain and storm on his will again.