Hun Sen Under Mounting Pressures
“The official press agency of the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday published an article that rebukes the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen for failing to deal with political unrest in Cambodia and calls for ‘serious and deep reforms’ in the country over the next five years. The Xinhua News Agency, whose output is tightly controlled by China’s government, notes the discord in Cambodia since the ‘disputed general election’ on July 28 and cites a number of political analysts in the country calling on Mr. Hun Sen to act swiftly ‘to restore his popularity’.”
Reporters Alex Willemyns and Mech Dara, 6 December 2013, The Cambodia Daily
“Respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms is part of the EU’s trade policy and underpins the legal basis of our trade preferences.”
European Commission Vice President (Foreign Affairs) Federica Mogherini, 1 May 2018, The Phnom Penh Post
“The Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018 will push back against the Hun Sen regime’s undermining of democracy and related human rights abuses by applying financial sanctions to the figures who carry out this despicable agenda and codifying the Administration’s existing visa restrictions for these individuals.”
US Congressman Ted Yoho, 15 May 2018, The Phnom Penh Post
According to a CPP inner circle source, Hun Sen is worried sick about three main intertwined issues: China’s support, legitimacy of his new government, and the CPP’s internal uneasiness with his rule.
He doubts if China’s support is set in stone. China has a record of dropping their once-proclaimed and glorified allies like a hot potato for its best interest when necessary. Sihanouk and Pol Pot potatoes immediately come to mind.
The current China’s support is not without any conditions. Besides a laissez-faire control of economic activities in certain logistic parts of Cambodia Hun Sen has given his benefactor, China still expects Hun Sen to lift his game after the CPP 2013 elections disaster. The 2017 commune elections that see the CNRP consolidating its 2013 inroad into the CPP heartland prove to China that Hun Sen has failed in the four preceding years of government. Though Hun Sen now denies outright any political unrests, China may not buy it; he may just become another hot potato.
Hence, how would Hun Sen now convince China of his popularity and being in control? He has not instituted any serious and deep reforms in the past five years as China calls for. How can he, when he has built his power base upon a corrupt status quo? He could now go for a façade of control and popularity – the legitimacy of his next government, which depends on the July elections process and outcomes. He needs a high voter turnout and an absence of sanctions by the West.
However, Hun Sen is likely to fail. The opposition may intensify their call for the elections boycott and double up their lobby effort for the US and EU sanctions. A dedicated EU mission to Phnom Penh next month for a review of their tariff-free imports from Cambodia can only raise Hun Sen’s blood pressure as they link respect of human rights and fundamental freedom to their trade policy. A bill introduced in the US Congress to impose financial sanctions and travel bans could unsettle the nerves of Hun Sen’s significant minions. The upcoming second anniversary of the Kem Ley assassination on 10 July – it is so close to the 29 July elections – can only flare up a popular conviction that Hun Sen is a mastermind.
With such intense pressures hanging over his head, Hun Sen’s actions have also been greeted with great dismay within the CPP, which is emphatically manifested in the 2013 and 2017 elections. Even in metropolitan electorates where live many CPP stalwarts, their votes e.g. in Toul Kouk go to the CNRP in droves. The unexpected losses make Hun Sen so apprehensive that he trusts none besides his family members. He will likely settle the score with those disloyal minions if he ever survives the mounting pressures.
Yet, Hun Sen may not survive, unless he redefines his brand of democracy and human rights, or the opposition’s call for the election boycott and their US and EU lobby efforts are ineffective and fizzle out.
Ung Bun Ang
By the Way
So according to Hun Sen, his brand of true democracy is more advanced than those in the EU and the US. His yardstick for the claim is refreshing. He says their voter turnouts are around 30% and 40% respectively, which is below the Cambodia’s turnout of 69%. If Hun Sen uses the turnout of 86% in the 2017 commune elections, his brand of true democracy will be far more advanced than those two democracies. Who is he trying to kid, if not himself?
Then again, he may just be setting it up for an easier run for himself in the July elections after blocking his only formidable opponent from the elections. If he can manage between 30% and 40%, he will claim his democracy will be as true and good as that of the EU and the US. Pray the EU and the US buy in their review of trade policy and individualised sanctions.
“បើយើងប្រៀបធៀបភាគរយនៃការចូលរួមបោះឆ្នោតពីសំណាក់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋរវាងប្រទេសកម្ពុជា និងសហគមន៍អ៊ឺរ៉ុប និងសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិក គឺអ៊ឺរ៉ុបមានប្រជាពលរដ្ឋទៅបោះឆ្នោតក្នុងរង្វង់ ៣០% ក៏អាចទទួលយកបាន រីឯសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិកគឺមានពលរដ្ឋទៅបោះឆ្នោតតែក្នុងរង្វង់៤០%ប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ ប៉ុន្តែចំពោះកម្ពុជា គឺមានពលរដ្ឋជាង៦៩%ទៅបោះឆ្នោត។ នេះគឺបង្ហាញច្បាស់អំពីការរីកចម្រើននៃលទ្ឋិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យពិតប្រាកដនៅក្នុងប្រទេសយើង មិនដូចការបកស្រាយដោយជនអគតិមួយចំនួនឡើយ។”
នាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ហ៊ុន សែន ថ្ងៃទី១៦ ខែឧសភា ឆ្នាំ២០១៨ ទំព័រហ្វេសប៊ុក ហ៊ុន សែន
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