Cambodia’s political situation is in turmoil as the debate over election irregularities continues to dominate. The despotic oppressive government, which has been in power since the fall of the Khmer Rouge denies any irregularities or inconsistencies and the opposing party members from the CNRP (Cambodian National Rescue Party), have, so far, refused to take their position in parliament since the contested election. Corruption, exploitation and unscrupulousness prevails and continues in all areas of government.
I have be following this process and the street protests with interest during which time it became increasingly volatile and at times ready to explode into violence.
At one point the demonstration were joined by workers from the ”rag trade”, workers on low pay making garments mainly for named brand retailers in the west, they were demanding higher wages and better conditions. They swelled the numbers by a factor of probably 10 and things began to get out of hand leading to the deaths of 3 people during a riot at Stung Meanchey outside the garment factories when police and soldiers reacted violently to angry strikers.
Freedom Park Provocation
Up until the closing of Freedom Park which had become a gathering place for the CNRP and other protesters, protest had bee relatively peace and good humoured. This changed when people were evicted from the park and it was turned into a virtual fortress by the army, police and municipal security guards.
These municipal security guards have on several occasions perpetrated violence on peaceful and legal demonstrators, seemingly provoking confrontation.
It has always quite surprised me how long the government allowed these demonstrations to proceed, they have used the municipal government to stop them under the guise of safety for the city. Yes there was disruptions during the marches but little or no violence until the municipal government thugs forced confrontation.
Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers, has been in power in various coalitions since 1985.
He was reappointed by parliament in September 2013 for a further five-year term. The move followed mass demonstrations and came amid a boycott of parliament by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which alleged fraud in the July elections.
The prime minister’s Cambodian People’s Party won 68 seats in the poll, to the CNRP’s 55. The CNRP said it was cheated out of 2.3 million votes, prompting protests by opposition supporters.
Hun Sen is no stranger to controversy. He seized power from his then co-prime minister, Prince Ranariddh, in 1997.
More recently, some Western countries have said his rule has become increasingly authoritarian.
Critics accuse Hun Sen of using a mixture of electoral fraud, corruption and intimidation to maintain what is in effect dictatorial rule.
Born in 1952, Hun Sen joined the Communist Party in the late 1960s and, for a time, was a member of the Khmer Rouge. He has denied accusations that he was once a top official within the movement, saying he was only an ordinary soldier.
During the Pol Pot regime in the late 1970s he joined anti-Khmer Rouge forces based in Vietnam.
Hun Sen has said he will rule Cambodia into his seventies : BBC News report …
Hun Sen and his political party, CPP, have for the most part of their rule held near total dominance over the mainstream media. Bayon Television is owned and operated by Hun Mana Hun Sen’s eldest daughter. Apsara TVis joint-owned by Say Sam Al, CPP Minister of Environment and son of Say Chhum, CPP secretary and the son of CPP Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. CTN, CNC and MyTV are all owned by Khmer-Chinese tycoon, Neak Okhna Kith Meng, one of the State’s “Okhna”. Okhna is a title granted by the Prime Minister or the Royal Family to high profile businessmen, and signifies a very close friendship. Okhna are regularly summoned by the Prime Minister to provide funding for various projects.
CPP officials claim that there is no connection between the TV stations and the state, despite the obvious prevalence of Nepotism. However, CPP lawmaker and official spokesman Cheam Yeap once stated “We pay for that television [coverage] by buying broadcasting hours to show our achievements,” indicating that those TV stations are pro-CPP because they have been paid for by the state for what is effectively advertising.
Part of the success of the CPP’s continuing domination has most certainly been its control of the media. This control has been weakened by the uprise of social media, availabilty of international news channels. People have begun to see what is going on in the world outside Cambodia and the beginnings of the movement for change and the challenge of CPP’s authority began in 2013.
Young and old are seeking and demanding change, fairness and an end to the endemic corruption that pervades the current system.