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Posted by: | Posted on: July 25, 2013

Letter to the Editor of Phnom Penh Post about the Return of H.E.Sam Rainsy

The Return of Sam Rainsy and the Unresolved Challenges

Dear Editor;

Sophan letter, The Post, July 19The futurists, the pragmatists and the traditionalists are now engaged in the state of strategic debate about today’s return to Cambodia of HE Sam Rainsy, after receiving a letter of pardon from the King of Cambodia.

The Futurists

This pardon is not something new as this same type of thing has happened before in Cambodian politics.

The pressure from the international community, especially the special resolution debated in the congressional’s subcommittees and the omnipresent rallies of overseas Cambodians worldwide served as more than just a spectacle for the Cambodian People’s Party in relation to their decision to request this pardon.

The term of “national reconciliation” has been used abstractly as political propaganda. However, the ruling party is stunted by the growing support, on a daily basis, of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

The Pragmatists

The argument for this side is about the realistic situation happening in Cambodia right now. The unification of Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party to form the CNRP is a very constructive model in the perception of Khmer unity and national reconstruction. Publicly, many NGOs in Cambodia have gradually pledged to vote for the CNRP. These movements don’t include those businessmen and individual Cambodians, especially the youth, who are cheerfully expressing support.

For the opposition party who has survived through the generous financial support from Cambodians overseas, this is the most crucial time to raise funds from those diaporas.

Pragmatists see the returning of Sam Rainsy as very positive for the party because it is sure to boost its popularity. While Sam Rainsy has been known for his historical courage, clean record and integrity in Cambodian politics, HE Kem Sokha who is deputy of CNRP has been known for his formidable public-speaking skills and his sharp political instincts.

The return to Cambodia of Sam Rainsy from self-exile, while avoiding a lengthy jail term, raises major concerns about his safety and access to full political freedom. Taking Philippine’s Leader Benigno Aquino as the example after returning to his home country from exile in the US, we don’t want to see this incident happen in Cambodia. More than this, HE Sam Rainsy must be able to exercise his full political career in Cambodia by including him in the voting list and candidate rolls.

The support of the intellectuals, youth and urban citizens for the CNRP can be countered with those rural Cambodians who support the ruling party. CNRP has difficulty in garnering support in those remote areas, while the media that reaches them are visibly dominated by the ruling party.

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Posted by: | Posted on: September 4, 2008

Politics must mature

Written by Sophan Seng
Thursday, 04 September 2008

Dear Editor,

Many observers have assumed current transitional Cambodian politics will gradually become mature. But I believe this is an obscure statement. If we say the tendency of Cambodian politics is towards maturity within a cave of immaturity, this might be more plausible. However, what we cannot fathom is: How bad is this cave?

Some Cambodian people and major incumbent Cambodian politicians will, not reluctantly, concur that they are very glad as a result of many new emerging things that they didn’t have during the Pol Pot period. This statement is logical, but even wise people might not see that it is still important to develop Cambodia’s political maturity.

Pol Pot came to power with the intention of restructuring Cambodian society to build a new, utopian, agrarian society. The regime’s approach has become globally recognised as “year zero”. So how wise and good can we be when the present emerging development is pragmatically compared to the “year zero” of Pol Pot? Anything now is socially, economically, politically unmatched to those of the Khmer Rouge regime.

The current Cambodian hybrid Khmer Rouge trial has solemnly proclaimed its primary mission is to enhance national reconciliation, to help heal Cambodians’ [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)], and to eliminate the culture of impunity. Cambodian people should not be easily exploited by the politically orchestrated attempt to disfavour the Khmer Rouge and favour the so-called Khmer Rouge liberators. In reality, we should try and achieve some insight and understanding of the fact that while the Khmer Rouge were communist, the Vietnamese who liberated us from the Khmer Rouge were also communist. They both are communist by origin. Contemporary Cambodian politicians and people have to protect themselves from both of these two disadvantaged political influences with the overall intention of truly democratising Cambodia, developing ourselves to appreciate this new political trend and nourishing the maturity of political leaders and their followers.

Regarding the political parties, no distinction can be made between government party and opposition party. These two national political parties are interdependent and inseparable. The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) can legitimise themselves in front of the Cambodian people as well as international communities because of the Sam Rainsy Party. Similarly, the Sam Rainsy Party can have a stage to test the weaknesses and strength of their future leadership, or that of the CPP. For example, their current legal movement to reject the result of election was a brave performance.

The Cambodian people, both old and young, are observers, referees and owners of this social contract. They should not be careless and allow an imbalance of power between government and opposition to continue to happen. If such an imbalance is not dangerous per se, it is surely not compatible with the principle of liberal democracy.

Sophan Seng
Ph.D student of political science
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Source: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2008090421525/National-news/Politics-must-mature.html