Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A culture of dialogue, a good or bad strategy for CNRP?

[Image Sam Rainsy Facebook]
 By Khmer Wathanakam
It's a rare family dinner occasion taking place between the two political rivals over the past two decades though quiet but it surprises  many people and political observers to see such an unusual occasion.  The culture of dialogue can bring the two bitter opponents close together to show national unity at a time when the nation is facing threat and border encroachment by its more powerful neighbor by setting aside their personal and political differences.  As Sam Rainsy said, " this private meeting between the two families is the first and historical event that never has happened between the opposition party and the ruling party leaders in the past. And it helps strengthening a culture of dialogue that inhibits violence confrontation and protect safety of party activists and supporters while Hun Sen call a culture of dialogue, a mean to maintain political stability and prosperity for the country." What does CNRP gain from this new political culture?

An ending parliament boycott along with a culture of dialogue with CPP has alienated some CNRP's radical supporters who wanted no political compromise with CPP, and some of them turned to support some newly created parties.  Some even believe that CNRP is no different from Forncipec in the past.  To clarify these suspicions, we should look to the CNRP's principle and actions hitherto. Since CNRP has joint the parliament to work with the CPP more than a year ago, it has achieved its enormous works for the nation as well as for the party.  Wherever problems happen, there are CNRP MPs there to solve and protect the rights of the people and the national interest, such as land grab, labor disputes, human rights abuses, and border issues and so forth.  Although those issues are not effectively resolved but the CNRP's MPs have fulfilled their duty as a true representatives of all people throughout the country. They summoned many government officials to answers and explained all questions related to corruption, human rights abuse, environment destruction, labor disputes, and even border issue.  And some of those MPs received physical and emotional abuses while they were performing their duties to help and protect people and national interest.
For instances, Mr. Real Kemrin was beaten up by the Vietnamese while he was peacefully visited border posts.  Mr. Um Sam An was threatened and chased out from parliament and the council of minister buildings by Cheang Vun, a CPP's MP,  and security guards, inhibiting him from giving press conference to journalists. These are obstacles that some CNRP's MPs have confronted when doing their jobs while others still faced court's summon and jail term for performing their duty to serve and protect the people.
[Family dinner picture, image Sam Rainsy Facebook]

Sam Rainsy personal relationship with Hun Sen may help solving some issue related to national  security.  The border issue with Vietnam and a close friendship with China are the key national security that the two leaders may find a common ground since CNRP staunchly supports China on South China Sea dispute with Vietnam while Hun Sen's government has been reluctant to openly support China, avoiding confrontation with Hanoi.  But Hun Sen's government publicly regarded South China Sea issue as a bilateral issue among claimants rather than an international issue that China sternly opposes.  Many analysts claimed that Cambodia has showed its deterrent with Hanoi when border issue flared up with Vietnam, Cambodia sent big military delegation to visit China, and the two armies pledged to cooperated in defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity together.  Although, Hun Sen's government called a visit just a regular routine visit as usual but during a three-day meeting with Vietnam, Cambodian government claimed that Hanoi had made a big concession,  stopping all activities on white zones and agreeing to fill up three of the eight man made ponds demanding by Cambodia.  This rare tougher stand that Hun Sen has taken against Hanoi on border issue more likely result from a culture of dialogue and a closer tie with China which the two leaders have shared the same view.
Despite the CNRP still  continues practicing a culture of dialogue with the CPP, it has never abandoned the party principle and policy--to bring true democracy, social justice, and national sovereignty for the country.  The CNRP's MPs job performings so far are so remarkable; they led people visiting border encroachment by Vietnam, demanded government to show the constitutional mandated map in delineating border with Vietnam, requested government to postpone border demarcation with Vietnam until the two countries have finalized their deal.  And more importantly, all 55 CNRP's MPs boycotted a vote on a NGO's controversial law that unilaterally passed by the CPP's MPs--a law that intends to restrict freedom and rights of over 5000 NGOs which have currently operated in the country, and this flagrant law has been strongly opposed and condemned by all civil societies, unions, opposition party, and the international community, particularly the EU which has threatened to cut its financial aid $700 annually to Cambodia.  However, Hun Sen did not budge with pressures and asked his MPs to pass the law without a single member opposed.  The boycott from the opposition though did not affect a result, but it clearly reassures the party's commitment to bring true democracy to the country, and it promises to revive this controversial law when it wins the next election.
A culture of dialogue with the CPP makes CNRP more political gaining than losing.  A culture of dialogue has reduced mistrust between the two main rival parties, and helps to bring more peaceful political atmosphere (detente) and to protect the party activists who are still facing court summon and jail term.  Furthermore, a culture of dialogue has produced a new independent NEC, CNRP TV and Radio stations, the most important means for the CNRP's election campaign for 2017 and 2018 elections.  Even though the CNRP has benefited from this dialogue with Hun Sen, the CNRP has faced strong opposition from some radical supporters who want the party to stand firm with the CPP no matter what, and if the party continues to make conciliatory tone with Hun Sen, it is more likely to lose some diehard supporters who may defect to Mom Sonando, Sourn Serey Ratha, and Kemly parties which have opposed the CNRP's joining the parliament with the CPP last year as a betrayal act to its supporters and a broken promise of the party.  Although those accusations have made sense or nonsense, the CNRP had faced a dilemma, so it has to adopt a new political strategy of flexibility: to work with the CPP to create and pass laws that serve the interest of the people and oppose any law that inhibits democratic progress and curb human rights and freedom of the people.  In a culture of dialogue, despite Hun Sen is the most distrustful and tricky person to work with, Sam Rainsy may either not an easy person to fall into Hun Sen's trap or trick. Neither CNRP is Forncinpec nor Sam Rainsy is Ranaridh.  So far, Sam Rainsy has proved himself to the people as a patriotic and more honest leader in his political career for over the past two decades, facing assassinating attempts, jail terms, self-imposed exile, losing voting right and citizenship. But it did not deter him from seeking democracy and justice for the people. All those past hardship experiences even help strengthening his political skill and enlighten his political vision for the future of the nation.

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