Sunday, February 16, 2014

Any Chance of Political Breakthrough?


The two parties will resume negotiation in the upcoming week, but agendas for talk had not yet set. However, the CNRP clearly indicated that it would raise a demand for election reform and midterm election while the CPP hesitated to provide any clear agenda until the talk starts.  The resumption of talk will give people a glimpse of hope that the worse may be over now, for the political atmosphere has been tense since the deadly crackdown by Hun Sen's security forces on the garment workers who had protested for their higher minimum wage.  Since then, the regime has banned all kinds of protest and violently disperse all peaceful protests, beating up protesters and jailing many activists. In addition, a fresh violence just happened in the past few days when the security forces violently removed residents from dispute property in Borei Keila caused at least nine more people injured.  Thus, any political compromise between the two parties will help reduce pressure and tension in the country where many people have suffered enormously from social injustice and political oppression.

It is very distasteful and unpleasant choice for the opposition to resume talk with the CPP while violence against their supporters and all people have continued, but without negotiation with them, the current situation will even worsen.  To talk with them may help reducing some tension and finding a possible solution to end such a prolonged crisis.  Although Hun Sen and his subordinates have pretended that the current situation is normal, but in the minds and hearts of the people are even jolting to the boiling point when they have witnessed violence against innocent people occurring almost every week.

 The people have witnessed all kinds of violence and injustice in the country over the past 30 years, and now Hun Sen has shown no sign of loosening his power grip not even resigning from his position.  He ordered his top military generals and his powerful ministers--interior and defense ministers--to declare their loyalty to protect constitution and his illegitimate government, accusing the opposition of plotting a constitutional coup while he is violating the constitution in all aspects of his rule.  He always tries to force everyone to blindly fallow his will, twisting the situation and story from wrong to right, from black to white and vice versa.

Nearly 30 years under his iron fist rule, most people have been well understanding his trick and tactic.  Now he is no longer able to practice his old political games, buying out and breaking up his political opponents.  Currently, his new visible strategy, in term of international relations, he has applied deterrence and detente--showing up forces to scare off his opponents and loosening or relaxing when his opponents tend to back off.  If the opposition and the people agree with his insane rule, he seems loosen some of his power grip, but if they oppose him or when he feels threatened, he starts to use all means of violence and dirty tricks: he openly called for his supporters to disrupt and to threat all opposition rallies and their leaders in Kandal and Kompong Cham provinces in the past few weeks.   In addition, he ordered his security forces to beat up peaceful protesters who just requested a TV license and demanded to release the 23 innocent people who have been jailed unjustly.

Now in this new round of negotiation, the opposition should shorten out their list of demands by focusing on what that would be possible for a compromise--to restructure the electoral system and schedule midterm election.  Such a proposal will be the best solution for both parties to consider since  Hun Sen still runs his current government during this provisional period until the new election take place, and the opposition will go to sit in the national assembly to work out a plan for election reform and to schedule the new election.  The opposition may not make any further concession beyond this point, and they must not participate in the next election unless the NEC and the whole election system had been thoroughly restructured first, otherwise they would fall into Hun Sen's political trap again.

To bring the situation back to normal, Hun Sen must loosen his power grip in order to create a favorable political atmosphere for a fruitful negotiation.  He can't continue using his brutal forces to beat up and to force people to accept his will and to bring the situation back to normal.  Every time he ordered his forces to beat up and kill people, he just increase a level of instability in the country since all his violent crackdowns on the people will push their hearts and minds to a boiling point.  Now the situation is only artificially calm, but actually the people's hearts and minds are boiling hotter than ever before because Hun Sen can only control the people outwardly, but he cannot control the hearts and minds of the people.  The situation will return to normal if and only if the two parties can find an acceptable solution that required the two sides to make a painful concession to each other, otherwise they will face each other on the streets again.

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