|Hun Sen greets King Sihamoni (Image www.zimbio.com)|
Legitimacy is a core value to all governments around the world, and the government in each country has different levels of legitimacy depends on how it comes to power-- by forces, cheated election, and free and fair election. For Cambodia, a question of legitimacy for the government has been raised since 1979 when Vietnam had invaded Cambodia and installed its satellite regime to rule the country on its behest until today. Despite legitimacy has been questionable, Hun Sen regime has managed to hold its power for over three decades with minimum interruption. Literally, legitimacy means that the rightful king or queen is on the throne by reason of "legitimate birth." Since the European Middle Age, the term means to the legal and psychological rights to govern. But nowadays legitimacy is more referred to an attitude in people's minds--in some countries strong, in other weak--that the government's rule is rightful. As the current Cambodian unilateral government has been decried for its legitimacy, Hun Sen recently has brazenly compared himself with a Thai military coup leader, General Prayuth Chan Ocha, who had launched a bloodless coup to topple an elected government and proclaimed himself as a legitimate ruler of Thailand when he got endorsement from the king. Hun Sen assumed that if Prayuth was a legitimate leader why not him since he and Gen. Prayuth have received the same royal endorsement. Can the king or queen give legitimacy to any leader on his or her own will?
Since Thailand is the most prominent constitutional monarchy and democracy in the region, a recent military coup in Thailand has sent a wrong message to the entire region while democracies are flourishing in some countries--Indonesia and Philippines-- some are struggling to nurture it-- Cambodia and Myanmar--and the others are either partially democratic-- Singapore and Malaysia--or autocratic--Brunei, Laos, and Vietnam. Cambodia which has gained momentum in searching for true democracy, the Thai military coup has pushed the democratic forces into disadvantageous position when Hun Sen, a braggart and dictatorial leader, has used a situation in Thailand as a good excuse for iron fist rule. He confused himself, stating that the Thai coup leader, Gen. Prayuth Chan Ocha was legitimate leader why not him when he and Gen. Prayuth got the same approval from the king, the highest authority in the country. Hun Sen's thinking is in hundreds years back to the European Middle Ages. Nowadays even if legitimacy is still endorsed by the king or Queen in some countries, the true legitimacy is stemmed from the hearts and minds of the people. The king or queen in Britain, Japan, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and so forth can only endorse any leader if and only if the leader was freely and fairly elected by the people. In this scenario, Prayuth is not a legitimate leader of Thailand in the eyes of people and the international community though he was endorsed by the king because he was not elected by the people.
Hun Sen assumes that an absence of strong reaction from the international community against the coup leader along with the royal approval suggesting that Gen. Prayuth Chan Ocha is a legitimate leader. In fact, legitimacy cannot be created or installed, but it must be earned from the hearts and minds of the people and the international community. Since 1979, Hun Sen and his party, the CPP, has failed to earn full legitimacy from the people and the international community, for Hun Sen or his party was created and installed by Hanoi's tanks and guns. Then after the Paris Peace Accord 1991, Hun Sen has manipulate to hold power until today through numerous dirty tricks and violent means that has put his legitimate rule in question. Currently, his legitimacy even runs into more trouble when he refused the independent inquiry to certify his claimed election victory and defied opposition parliament boycott to create the government unilaterally, forcing the king to preside over the first session of the new elected National Assembly members without the quorum required by the constitution. Hun Sen believes that when he get endorsement from the king, he becomes a legitimate leader. He forgets the most majority of people who did endorse him. Hun Sen can create as many kings as he wants, but he cannot create legitimacy for himself, only the majority of people can give him a real one.
What Hun Sen has allied himself with the new coup leader in Thailand is not a natural alliance but a short and temporary interest. Hun Sen doesn't share much common interest with the Thai military coup leader besides falling into the same type of the leaders whose legitimacy is in question. However, the military power grab in Thailand has provided Hun Sen a strong psychological and political support in defending his dubious legitimacy and dictatorial rule in the current crisis. At least, from now on, whenever he get criticisms from the international community as well as the Cambodian people about his firm power grab, he simply refers to Gen. Prayuth Chan Ocha of Thailand, " why not him, only me?" As a ruthless and longest serving prime minister in the world, Hun Sen has learned to exploit political benefit from events that have occurred both domestically and internationally. No matter what Gen. Prayuth Chan Ocha is a legitimate or illegitimate leader, he is a strong royalist, nationalist, and conservative who has committed to defend Thailand interest at all costs even to deprive his own people basic rights. He is merely a provisional leader who tries to bring rule and order to the country before a new free and fair election will take place on October 2015. But Hun Sen doesn't share what Gen. Prayuth has and no any promise to hold free and fair election in the near future. Hun Sen is neither a faithful royalist nor a nationalist and conservative, but he is only an opportunist and a puppet ruler who has placed foreigner interest above Khmer's in exchange for his personal power and wealth.