>Cambodian government MP says small parties no rival for ruling CPP

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On July 27th, Cambodians will go to the polls and almost certainly re-elect Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party. Despite a poor record on upholding human rights and combating corruption, the party expects to get a tick for overseeing the emergence of a peaceful Cambodia after years of civil conflict. Challenging will be a range of smaller parties including junior coalition partner Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party.

Presenter: Bill Bainbridge
Speaker: CPP spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith (pictured)

KANHARITH: They don’t know how to organise their party and I think that they really don’t work hard. You can see many of those people travelling abroad or just you have what you call a one man show of party and in fact the CPP work very closely beside the government and we work hard with the people at the grassroot level. And you know what the rule for the party member. You have to spend one sixth of your time in the countryside, in the rural area.

BAINBRIDGE: You say that the members of the other parties often go abroad. Isn’t it also true that sometimes they’re forced to go abroad because they’re intimidated, they fear for their lives?

KANHARITH: If they really fear for their life or they feel threatened, they don’t accuse their CPP leader as a traitor as a thief. You cannot do his work. You really feel intimidated by all the threat that they claim.

BAINBRIDGE: So you’re saying that they are not really intimidated?

KANHARITH: No, but I think that most of the time, they don’t know how to work with the Cambodian people. They know very well to talk well English or to talk with a foreigner, but to work really with the people they don’t know how to do it.

BAINBRIDGE: The CPP has been in power for a very long time now. What new are you offering at this election? What policies will you be taking to the election?

KANHARITH: We can resume in one word better life and we can explain this because word that we expect that in 2012 we can use our gas, oils, mineral and solar, hydro-power. We can show the people a constant price for safety for 30 years.

BAINBRIDGE: What kind of guarantees do the people have that all that large injection of oil revenue that you are expecting in the next few years, will be used wisely? The foreign donors here, the NGO’s are very concerned that that money will be siphoned off. It will be taken by a few rich and powerful people and it won’t really benefit the people of Cambodia?

KANHARITH: NGO they never understand about the budget law one, Two, they cannot understand about accountability, they just make the claim that in fact you can see in detail what we are spending and what is our income.

BAINBRIDGE: It’s not just the NGO’s. it’s not just activists making this claim though, it’s also many foreign governments?

KANHARITH: You know if you had to wait and to see, because this is not even like Africa, it’s not what you call it’s for the government. This is a democracy. You cannot spend well your money, you cannot (inaudible) your income to lose the election.

BAINBRIDGE: Why is it then that the Cambodian people should re-elect this government which has overseen a country which has so much corruption for such a long time?

KANHARITH: Look, you know we have corruption everywhere, but this they don’t have a large scale corruption like in many country one. Two, if you look at the other political parties like the Sam Rainsy Party, in the year 2000, he misused, sold 170,000 US dollars when other member asked for clarification, even they chase those people out of the party. Just so the people understand that there might be a problem, but at least this government is a working and had been working to serve the people better than all the.

BAINBRIDGE: Traditionally this period, this lead up to the election period. There are many reports of political intimidation. Most of those accuse the CPP of being intimidating people at the grassroots level and that at the political level. Are you able to give any kind of guarantee that this election will be conducted in a way that is safe for those who are participating into it?

KANHARITH: You know many political party they have their office everywhere is mean that they feel safe already. Two, the government will not condon any violence during the election campaign. Sure, you cannot avoid that if people because they support this or that political party, get some violent, we could not avoid that. But the people who commit violence must face justice.

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