The State and the CPP: Cambodia’s Social Contract

លោកដេវិធធ្វើការវិភាគគួរអោយយកមកពិចារណា ហើយខ្ញុំសូមបន្ថែមចំណុចខ្លះដូចតទៅ៖
១. គណបក្សកាន់អំណាចធ្វើផ្គរធ្វើភ្លៀងគ្រប់យ៉ាងក្នុងការរំលោភច្បាប់និងរំលោភអំណាចដើម្បីអោយគណបក្សជំទាស់ពិកលពិការ តែគណបក្សកាន់អំណាចនឹងមិនបោះបង់ចោលការបោះឆ្នោតទេ ទោះបីមានមេដឹកនាំមួយចំនួនគួចមាត់អោយចេញពីជំហរនេះក៏ដោយ។
២. តែបើបោះឆ្នោតទៅ គណបក្សជំទាស់ឈ្នះឆ្នោត គណបក្សកាន់អំណាចទំនងជាមិនផ្ទេរអំណាចអោយទេ ឬបើគណបក្សកាន់អំណាចមានចេតនាចង់ផ្ទេរ តែមេដឹកនាំប្រដាប់អាវុធគ្រឹកៗនឹងមិនចង់អោយផ្ទេរឡើយបើមើលតាមលក្ខណ្ឌនៃទំរង់នយោបាយបច្ចុប្បន្ន។
៣.អ្វីដែលចំងល់មានលើសពីនេះគឺបើគណបក្សជំទាស់ឈ្នះការបោះឆ្នោត គណបក្សនេះអាចមានលទ្ធភាពកៀរគរការគាំទ្រពីបណ្តារកំឡាំងប្រដាប់អាវុធទាំងអស់នោះឬទេ? បើអាចជៀសបាន គួររៀបចំសេណារីយ៉ូបង្ការទុកមុនដូចប្រទេសភូមាបានឬអត់?
 
Mr. David critically analysed Cambodia politics in article and I would like to briefly add to it as following:
1. Government-led party has built up rains and storms to stifle opposition party even-though those activities are violating rule of laws or abusing their power but at the end, this party shall not give up election although there are few top officers wished to withdraw from this trajectory.
2. But when there are an election, opposition party wins the election, government-led party shall not transfer power or if government-led party wants to transfer, those arms-force’s high ranking officers are likely reluctant if we understand current form of political foundation.
3. What are beyond this thought is if opposition party won election, could this party persuade those arms-force’s high ranking officers to support them or not? To avoid future deadlock, Cambodia should pursue a type of scenario like Myanmar or not?
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The State and the CPP: Cambodia’s Social Contract

In Cambodia, Hun Sen’s CPP — not the government — has a monopoly on providing public goods.

By David Hutt
August 19, 2016

Op-Ed: The Diplomat 

Photo: articlesweb.org
Photo: articlesweb.org

Half way through writing this piece, the perfect encapsulation of the points I was intending to make was provided when Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke to a group of 18-year-old high-schoolers on Wednesday. At the Hun Sen Bun Rany High School, named after himself and his wife, he asked: “You have been learning under the schools of samdech; how come you don’t vote for samdech?” (referring to his royally bestowed title that translates roughly as “lord”). He added: “How can you vote for the others when they have never built schools for you? Please help to tell your parents, too.”

Where to begin with such a remark? First, Hun Sen was breaking his own government’s law banning political propaganda at academic institutions. This isn’t the first time, though; in June, students in Pursat province were handed t-shirts bearing the words: “I love the Cambodian People’s Party.” Second, after breaking his own rules, which were reinforced by Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron only a month earlier, the CPP’s spokesman Sok Eysan justified his actions by saying that Hun Sen is above Hang Chuon Naron, the insinuation being that all decisions certainly do lie with the boss. Third, and by far the most significant, his comments reveal the synonymous nature of the Cambodian State and the CPP.

Not unlike the reign of Norodom Sihanouk, or the Angkorean “god-kings” of earlier centuries, the current Cambodian system operates on the basis of noblesse oblige. The vision of society is one where education, health, roads, and other basic services are not provided by the State (as they are, or, arguably, should be, in most modern democratic countries) but by the CPP. Since 2003, there have been more than 4,000 schools built across Cambodia using private funds, and named after the prime minister or his wife. These are the so-called “Hun Sen schools.” The same goes for hospitals, roads, bridges, and other services and infrastructure. Many have been built from donations made by CPP-aligned oknhas. Traditionally the title given by the king to nobles, since a sub-decree in 1994 resurrected the honorific the number of oknhas has swelled, from 20 in 2004 to an estimated 700 in 2014. To become a member of this semantic club, one must donate $100,000 to the “greater good,” often basic infrastructure projects, and in return is granted material gratitude, and the turning of a few blind eyes. The Buddhist concept of merit no doubt has history here, though in the modern day it can be greatly exaggerated. Rather than karma, capital and power fuels the system.

Continue reading “The State and the CPP: Cambodia’s Social Contract”

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Cambodian’s democracy is not developing — it is stagnating

Photo: articlesweb.org
Photo: articlesweb.org

Comment: Nicely termed indeed to call Cambodia democracy “gray zone” or “foggy zone”. For me,  it is beyond that two zones acclaimed by academicians, it is a “risky ridge zone” between crocodile and tiger. Cambodian people know very well that China is crocodile and Vietnam is tiger. Kampuchea Democratic Party led by Pol Pot has evidenced on humankind devastation when their organ was purely given birth and bred by Vietnam but nurtured and nutrient by China. Under current leadership of government-led party CPP,  the history repeat itself.

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Cambodian Democracy: Trapped in the ‘Gray Zone’

Op-Ed: The Diplomat http://thediplomat.com/2016/07/cambodian-democracy-trapped-in-the-gray-zone/

Cambodian’s democracy is not developing — it is stagnating.

By Chum Chandarin, July 27, 2016

I greatly appreciate that Parker Novak’s interest in Cambodian politics and that he foresees a positive outcome for Cambodian democracy. Unfortunately, as a Cambodian, I believe his article entitled “Cambodia’s Democratic Development: Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Gain,” fails to engage some facts which could lead to an unrealistic hope about Cambodian society and stagnate democratization.

While Novak observes the absence of violence and removal of some clauses in the cyber law as a positive trend toward democracy, he misses some important issues that are concerning democratic advocates and scholars around the globe. What is happening in Cambodian politics is not unique, compared to what is happening in Latin America as well as other Southeast Asian nations. A quick look at the Freedom House reports would reveal that Cambodia is still classified as an authoritarian state, as it has been for decades. Cambodia does not even fit into the minimalist conception of democracy introduced by Joseph Schumpeter — a ruler elected “through a competitive struggle for the people’s vote” — let alone Robert Dahl’s “polyarchy” which demands free and fair elections as well as the rights to participation, expression, and information.

The positive look at Cambodian democracy is misleading. Cambodia is falling into the “political gray zone,” a term coined by Thomas Carothers in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Democracy, in an article entitled “The End of the Transition Paradigm.” The political gray zone is a space where countries are “neither dictatorial nor clearly headed toward democracy,” according to Carothers. The regimes have certain democratic institutions but are less accommodated to political opposition and civil society participation. Citizens in this gray zone context do not meaningfully participate in the polity besides voting and the political parties are entertaining each other without making any serious reforms toward a deeper democracy.

Similar to the gray zone, Andreas Schedler in 2002 introduced the term “foggy zone” where two types of regimes, electoral democracy and electoral authoritarianism, are produced in between the poles of closed authoritarianism and liberal democracy. To him, elections are needed for a democratic country, but true democracy has to go beyond the elections to the institutionalization of “other vital dimensions of democratic constitutionalism, such as the rule of law, political accountability, bureaucratic integrity, and public deliberation.”

Cambodia is trapped within the “foggy zone” and qualifies as an electoral authoritarian state as it has failed to institutionalize its democratic institutions. There are recurring free elections but not fair competition. The military is under one-man rule. The court is influenced by politics. Fundamental rights granted by the Constitution have been continuously violated. Clearly, the beatings of opposition members of parliament (MPs) in broad daylight in front of the National Assembly and the detention of opposition politicians are some of the many examples of ways the ruling party is abusing its own law.

Thus, to argue that Cambodia is heading toward a meaningful democracy, and shall merely bear some pain along the way, is to miscalculate the authoritarian’s ability to consolidate his power and manipulate democratic rules to camouflage his dictatorship. It will take a stronger push from both local and international actors to advocate for more meaningful democracy. Cambodians have been enduring enough pain, have lost many lives, and have vigorously spoken for true democracy in their country. If elections are the only road to democracy, yet the election does not reflect the people’s true will, what can Cambodians hope for?

CHUM Chandarin is a senior lecturer in a private University in Cambodia. He is currently undertaking his PhD study in the field of democracy and decentralization in a European university. He used to work with various organizations in the field of community development and education

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The faithful couple

Sophal Ear at Occidental College in California compares Cambodian politics to a game of cat-and-mouse “where only the mouse changes”.

But the cat still has to run for re-election, and the next one, which Mr Hun Sen and Mr Sam Rainsy both say they will contest, already looms. Mr Hun Sen is 62 years old, and has said that he intends to rule until he is 74. Yet Cambodia’s young electorate is tired of decades of corruption and thuggish rule. Even with all the resources at its disposal, the CPP may not win the next election outright and deals may need to be cut. Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who heads Funcinpec, also says he plans to run but, given his party’s abysmal showing in 2013, he offers the prime minister little. Mr Kem Sokha’s frequent and unflinching criticisms of the prime minister render him an unlikely partner. That leaves Mr Sam Rainsy as the most appealing choice.

Politics in Cambodia

The faithful couple

An unlikely rapprochement after a long stand-off

Hun Sen (left) with Sam Rainsy: their new silken road

AFTER Hun Sen bet $5,000 on Manny Pacquiao defeating Floyd Mayweather in boxing’s “fight of the century”, the Cambodian prime minister refused to pay up, arguing that the Philippine hero did not deserve to lose to Mr Mayweather on points. So far, so usual for Cambodia’s strongman: boxing is just like an election, really, only less violent. The opposition has long claimed that Mr Hun Sen’s ruling party stole the last election, and there has been blood on the streets since.

So what to make of the unusual: the recent spectacle of Sam Rainsy, the opposition leader, consorting with Mr Hun Sen, his nemesis who has ruled Cambodia for 30 years and who drove Mr Sam Rainsy into exile for the better part of a decade?

Mr Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had been in a stand-off with Mr Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) since the election in 2013. A parliamentary boycott and a series of street protests followed, as well as a violent government crackdown on dissidents. An uneasy truce was negotiated last July. Yet last month, in plain view near the temples of Angkor Wat, here were Mr Sam Rainsy and Mr Hun Sen celebrating the Cambodian new year together along with their wives, chatting amicably to locals.

So far as Mr Sam Rainsy is concerned, there is now sweetness and light. “I used to hate Hun Sen,” he says. “But then it came to my mind that I should not hate anyone as a human. I should only hate and combat any bad crimes that a person has committed.” Mr Hun Sen has had an epiphany too: he and Mr Sam Rainsy “must stay together because, at the very least, we have the same Cambodian blood.”

Continue reading “The faithful couple”

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