Hun Sen Praises Cambodia’s New Era of Political Cooperation

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Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) gives a speech at a Khmer New Year celebration as opposition party leader Sam Rainsy (seated, third from L) listens.
Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) gives a speech at a Khmer New Year celebration as opposition party leader Sam Rainsy (seated, third from L) listens.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday that Cambodia is at a new political stage in its history and called for the continuation of the “culture of dialogue” and putting “an end to the culture of revenge” between politicians from the ruling and opposition parties.

He made the upbeat remarks during a public speech at a Khmer New Year celebration in Siem Reap province, which opposition party leader Sam Rainsy and his wife attended.

“The culture of dialogue has two goals— first, to strengthen peace and [second], to develop the country,”   Hun Sen said during his 90-minute speech.

During the ceremony, Sam Rainsy, who sat on the government’s stage for the first time as the prime minster spoke, was not allowed to give a speech.

Hun Sen also appealed to other political parties to follow in the footsteps of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

“We are implementing dialogue,” Hun Sen said. “We can encourage dialogue between parties outside the National Assembly [parliament] or parties inside the assembly,” he said. “Peace and social stability can’t be undermined.”

Last week the two parties wrapped up eight months of contentious negotiations on electoral reform. This was followed by the release of 10 imprisoned land-rights activists on Saturday and the freeing of five CNRP members and three monks on Monday. They all had been arrested during protests.

Dialogue could be dangerous

Political analyst Kem Ley told RFA’s Khmer Service that a culture of dialogue could be dangerous for the country and the opposition party. He warned that if the CNRP went easy with the ruling party, there would be no reforms.

He cited the example of the country’s Funcinpec party, which failed to win voter support after it formed a coalition government with the CPP before the 2008 elections. Although Funcinpec is the third-largest party in Cambodia, it failed to win any parliamentary seats in the 2013 general elections.

“When the opposition party is active, the government civil servants and workers are raised, and the government is prepared to conduct many reforms because the opposition party is getting stronger,” he said.

“When the opposition party is strong, the ruling party will conduct major reforms, but now that the opposition party is associated with the ruling party, the government will ignore those reforms.”

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for the domestic rights group Licadho, said he was concerned that the culture of cooperation would dominate for a short period, then the two parties would resume their conflict.

He also said if the CNRP did not get on well with the CPP, the opposition would meet a similar fate as did the Funcinpec party.

But Am Sam Ath also expressed hope that the CNRP would not end up like Funcinpec.

“If the opposition acts like the Funcinpec party, I think it will lose its popularity and see an end to its political life,” he said.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said the party would continue to stand behind its principles and support dialogue with the CPP without selling out to it.

“Dialogue is a discussion, so we will tell the government if something is wrong and we need to improve it,” he said, adding that the CNRP would continue to monitor the government, corruption and anything that negatively impacted the people.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Comments (5)

from US

Anonymous Reader you know your stuff well. you are exactly correct with Hun Sen and about his leadership. i just hope that Sam Ransy is smart enough not to fall into Hun Sen's trap. i just hope we can change the leadership next election. if not, Cambodia will go no where but the rich will get richer and corruption will continue

Apr 15, 2015 12:12 PM

Anonymous Reader

Almost everyone agrees to change leadership next election. It's easy said than done thou. The problem is you have a dictator who's used to single-handed rule the country for the past 30 years and doesn't want to give it up. He has many tricks up his sleeves and would not hesitate to use them with the help of his corrupt court, of course.

It's high risk for this dictator with billions of dollars at stake. He had proven in the past his resiliency and resourceful when push comes to shove. So it's everyone wish, with the "reformed NEC," that the last nail in his coffin will be used to put this dictator in his place for good.

Apr 15, 2015 06:21 PM

Anonymous Reader

Do you believe what Hun Sen said? I live in Cambodia more than 30 years after KR, but it almost NONE that what Hun Sen say is true. I don't believe at all. He said he love Cambodians but he kill Cambodians. He said he love democracy, but he kill democracy. He said he want to protect the forest, but he destroy the forest. This time, Hun Sen said he like Sam Ransy, but he will destroy Sam Rainsy, etc.

Apr 15, 2015 11:03 AM

Kone Khmer

from USA

Well, Hun Sen said peace and develop what a lie guy, he thinks only him can say any thing he wants. why do I say he lie? in fact, last month Kem Sokha went to USA he wanted to create problem-- arrest him. about develop, what develop? Yes develop his family, his CCP that small group ripped off people. It is very simple start audit those people to see where their money come from then you know how they develop.

Apr 15, 2015 01:26 AM

Anonymous Reader

Cambodia has a long history of effectively playing all sides. Before it was the Soviet Union and the U.S. Now it is China and the U.S. Nothing has really changed except before it was the king now it is the Prime Minister.

Apr 14, 2015 08:10 PM

Anonymous Reader

Cambodia is small and insignificant on international stage compared to other countries. As someone once said, "all politics are local." So it's local politics that are important to Khmer at the moment.

Anyway, if I had to choose between China and U.S, I would choose U.S in a heart beat. I understand why Corrupt politicians favored China because it benefits them, not the people. China favored dictators around the world and ignored the suffering of the people. This is the model China uses in its own country, control and oppress its own people. U.S, on the other hand, would like to see a democracy in a country because it would benefit the people and the U.S in the long run. Take South Korea, Taiwan and Japan for example are full democracy. Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand are half way there. And Cambodia needs to work toward South Korea or Japan model, not China.

Apr 15, 2015 11:29 AM

Anonymous Reader

I and most people like to see more actions and less words, or at least matches words with actions. The proof is in the putting, as the saying goes.

Apr 14, 2015 07:06 PM

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