Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cambodia Needs Credible Mechanism to Settle Crisis

Cambodian Royal Armed Forces

Cambodian Royal Armed Forces

By Khmer Wathanakam

 Most Western countries solve their political crisis through judicial system while other countries around the world solve their crisis with other mechanisms--monarchy, military, and even foreign mediators.  But in Cambodia, there is no credible mechanism in place to solve frequent fractious crisis.
Indeed, Cambodian constitution is among the best law in the region, for it derived part of it from the Paris Peace Accord in 1991 which fundamentally embraces democratic principle and respect of human rights; however the constitution seems have only on the paper.  In reality Cambodia still practices a de facto authoritarian or Communist political system when one man and one party control all aspects of the society, and at the same time they play democracy game to distort the public and the international community.

As Hun Sen and his party have played this game successfully over the past twenty years, now this astute game has become their political norm by setting their own rule or standard and forcing the others to accept it unquestionable. Consequently, a cycle of political crisis has occurred without mechanism to deal with it effectively since there is no rule of law as Hun Sen a real constitution violator claimed to be a constitution protector.

In several countries around the world when the rule of law is still weak, they have the mechanism to solve the political crisis.  During Arab Spring 2011, though President Allie of Tunesia and Mubarak of Egypt had ruled the country over decades when political crisis happened, the army stayed in neutral position.  As this powerful institution claimed neutral, the crisis seemed to end quicker and in positive way.  The police might refrain from using excessive forces to quell protesters when they were watching by the army.

Now a post-Mubarak era, Egypt seems adopt a similar mechanism that has been practiced in Thailand and Pakistan for decades.  The Egyptian army gained its reputation when it refused to take side during Egypt revolution which toppled Mubarak's authoritarian regime in 2011.  And in mid 2013, when Egyptians protesters demanded Islamist President Morci, who was accused of hijacking a revolution victory that the people had fought for, to step down, Morci did not budged the protesters' demand and pushed the crisis deeper.  After failed negotiation, the army stepped in to depose Morci and turned power to a provisional government to rewrite a better constitution and set a new election.  This is a new mechanism to end crisis faster and seems work fine so far.

When the rule of law is so weak such as Cambodia, if we can place the army above politics and in neutral position, it will become the best mechanism to solve the frequent crisis.  In such a current fractious crisis, if the Cambodian army is neutral and free from political party control, the army may intervene by overthrowing the current illegitimate regime and call for a new election.  Such a move will end the crisis faster and more acceptable to all parties since the army is above politic.  If the Cambodian army bravely adopts this model, it will gain more respect and reputation from the people because the army becomes the people's army, not the CPP's army.

Haplessly, Tea Manh, a long time defense minister, has repeatedly threatened peaceful protesters under a slogan of protecting a constitution which always has been violated by the current regime without consequence.  If the regime properly fallows the constitution, it will be no political crisis.  And the current crisis will not end permanently unless there is fair solution and justice for the people as guaranteed by the constitution.  Absurdly, Hun Sen claimed that he could not step down or set a new election, for he has done nothing wrong, and it was against the constitution.  What Hun Sen said is out of touch with reality and echoed what Gadhafi had said when people uprising against him spread across the country, Gadhafi claimed that people still loved him.

Based on political crisis over the past twenty years, Cambodia should create a reliable mechanism to deal with frequent political crisis since the rule of law and a royal institution are too weak to deal with crisis.  Now only the army, the most powerful institution in the country, should intervene on  behalf of the interest of the people and the nation to remove the current illegitimate government from the power and call for a new election--it is a fast and more acceptable solution to all parties and the people. 

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