Hun Sen learns how to fake democracy

OPINION

Hun Sen learns how to fake democracy

Surasak Glahan

SURASAK GLAHANCOLUMNIST

PUBLISHED : 14 NOV 2019 AT 04:01

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, right, and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen address a press conference together in Bangkok in December 2015 .  (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, right, and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen address a press conference together in Bangkok in December 2015 .  (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Cambodia may avoid trade sanctions from the EU and US if its government has learnt the art of faking a return to democracy and rule of law from Thailand, which has done its neighbour a huge favour by barring entry to its exiled opposition leaders.

In fact, Thailand is the only “democratic” country in the region that bowed to the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

Indonesia and Malaysia ignored the demand not to let Cambodian dissidents land, even letting some enter and stay. But that does not seem to have made Thailand a bad guy in the eyes of the West.

“I also came to power through elections,” Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the 2014 coup-maker, boasted to locals during his recent trip to Ratchaburi province.

Without a doubt, his government must have delivered the same message to western nations, who have bought it — or perhaps faked their acceptance — out of relief that the political mess in Thailand seems back to tolerable levels.

That indicates Prime Minister Hun Sen could have softened his crackdown on the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which has been so ruthless and rigorous that the West has threatened penalties over the past few years.

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