“By a swift change of policy, PM Hun Sen has proved that he is a seasoned politician who has no long term solution to Cambodian social ills and economic woes. His quick fix to the chronic problems is cosmetic and is nothing short of a window dressing designed to fool the voters.”
Editorial by Khmerization:-Political events in the last few days and weeks have been dominated by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s political manoeuvrings and election gerrymandering. By engineering key defections from the oppositions, Prime Minister Hun Sen has proved himself to be a master of skilful political tactician. It has been proved time and again that, when it comes to saving his political scalp, and to a certain extent political demise, the prime minister has proved that he is a great political survivor. Some might want to go further by calling him a political Larzarus. Case in point, the events in the last few days have seen Mr. Hun Sen scurrying and scuttling in a panic mode. After the Sok Pheng Affair had subsided, the PM has remodelled himself as a nice guy and is heard saying all the more familiar, but the-easily-forgotten, tone of siding with the poor land victims by attacking his own subordinates for abuses of power. First he ordered the release of four men arrested in a land dispute in Sihanoukville and the compensation to one other injured victim. He then viciously attacked his officials in Banteay Meanchey for failing to resolve local land disputes. Then comes the soaring prices of rice.
The soaring prices of rice at a time when Cambodia is holding the election has unnerved Mr. Hun Sen. The authority, including the Governor of Phnom Penh Kep Chutema, has blamed middlemen and speculators for deliberately inflating the prices of rice. The soaring prices of rice, in my opinion, have been caused by the shortage of rice supply due to over-exports and hoarding by people due to panic in anticipation of chaos in the upcoming election.
Rice has been a staple food of the Khmer people since the beginning of time. The Khmer has a saying that “we cultivate rice with water and make war with rice.” (ធ្វើស្រែងនឹងទឹកធ្វើសឹកនឹងបាយ). And, as 100% of Cambodians survived on rice, it is sure to play a very important role in the election and is therefore Hun Sen’s political survival at this stage. And, again, by announcing the moratorium on rice export to curb rice shortages and price rises, Hun Sen has once again proved himself as a political master of tactician. But, does this is enough to sway voters? In my opinion, the PM’s recent political manoeuvrings will not sway the voters. People have seen enough of Mr. Hun Sen’s empty and broken promises. In saying this, I still believe and strongly believe that Mr. Hun Sen and the CPP will win and win handsomely the upcoming election, not through free and fair election but, through cheating.
The PM’s, almost 180-degree, turnaround, in a swift change of mind, doesn’t surprise the long term and experienced Cambodian political observers. Instead his political manoeuvrings and this sort of election gerrymandering have unmasked more of his political failures and hypocrisy. While I applaud his goodwill gestures of compensating and releasing the land victims in Sihanoukville and his attempt to solve the rising prices of rice and other social ills, I doubt that this policy will be carried through to the next term, if he wins the election. By a swift change of policy, PM Hun Sen has proved that he is a seasoned politician who has no long term solution to Cambodian social ills and economic woes. His quick fix to the chronic problems is cosmetic and is nothing short of a window dressing designed to fool the voters. And, I for one will not be fooled. //