Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CNRP walks a tightrope as Hun Sen still practices culture of violence

Image, www.khmertimes.kh.com
 By Khmer Wathanakam

 Hong Sok Hour being arrested, Khmer Times
Over the past several weeks political atmosphere has heated up into a boiling point when Hun Sen has continued his witch hunt, throwing opposition activists into jail without concrete evidences and proper legal procedure.  Whenever he feels threatened or feared of losing his wielding power, he reacted in bellicose behavior, ordering his established security forces and court to quickly arrest and imprison the opposition member mercilessly.  What Hun Sen has behaved in the past few weeks has clearly indicated that he is still a man with violent-prone nature.  Culture of dialogue with the opposition has never changed him to be a new man, but his violent nature has overwhelmed the culture of dialogue. Tiger and lion used to eat meat as their daily meal, can't eat grass to replace meat.  A tiger can't be patient to wear a sheep skin for too long since it doesn't comfort as its own natural skin.  In the same way, Hun Sen can't act like a saint or Bodhisattva when he has heavy kalesa and tonaha of power and personal ambition.  His craving of power and personal pride have deprived other people of their basic personal freedom of living and expression.  The latest arrest of the opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour in a quick and intimidated way, accusing him of treason when he has actually sacrificed his energy and effort to defend and protect the interest of the country has perturbed many Cambodian people inside and outside the country.  Throughout social media, many people expressed their angers on the arrest, others felt frustrated and hated Cambodian society and its leader, and while the others felt unfortunate and dismayed to be born and raised under such a repressive regime.  However, some people including the opposition leader, Sam Rainsy still showed their resilience and optimistic that the current political heat up would be cooled down in someday.  After arrival at Phnom Penh Air Port from his long trip abroad, Sam Rainsy claimed that his top priority was to secure all his party's activists from jail including senator Hong Sok Hour.  After arriving at home, he has hurried to visit his activists in Prey Sar Prison.  Despite all the activists requested him not to exchange their release for political concession with Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy perhaps doesn't have much leverage as he did before joining the parliament on July 22, 2015 to negotiate with Hun Sen beside using his personal relationship with him and reviewing a political solution that both parties had signed on July 22, 2014 to officially end the post-election crisis.

Recently Sam Rainsy was criticized by some people for being irresponsible and escaping the country when Hun Sen  jailed 11 CNRP's activists and ordered to arrest more.  But CNRP's official Mr. Eng Chai Earng, explained that Sam Rainsy just traveled abroad as his usual schedule even if he stayed in the country, he could not do anything to secure those activists.  Based on this explanation, Sam Rainsy is more unlikely to have much leverage left to negotiate with Hun Sen for the release of his party's activists.  Nonetheless, Sam Rainsy still has confidence that he would use his cordial and cool method to deal with Hun Sen unrelated to the culture of dialogue since it is the long term strategy and relationship with CPP.  But now he has to search for all possible means to persuade and convince Hun Sen for his activists' release based on previous political agreement.  Because both public and most political observers have seen these cases as political, and it can be solved by negotiation between the two leaders though the CPP and Hun Sen insisted that they could not interfere with a so-called independent court system in which Hun Sen usually uses as a tool to jail his opponents on his wills.  Sam Rainsy himself had experienced in dealing with this flagrant court system under Hun Sen's decision for many occasions over the past 20 years, so he may still has some optimistic to solve this problem with Hun Sen fruitfully, but it may consume more times and more political concession have to offered by CNRP.  As Mr. Sok Eysan, a CPP's spokesman, indicated, " if Sam Rainsy wants to live in harmony with the CPP, he has to tell his party's officials and activists to do the same."  Hun Sen used to claim that the CNRP has two kinds actor: the friendly actors and the mean actors.

Although Hun Sen's accusation is true or not, the CNRP should review its political strategy in dealing with its more powerful and violent-prone opponent, the CPP.  The CNRP has to learn its past mistakes and some good model of leadership from its opponent, CPP.  As an European philosopher states that we always get close with our friends, but we should get closer with our enemies.  In this scenario, CNRP can learn weakness and strength from its behemoth opponents.
 For instances,Vietnam won most battles against its giant enemies-- Many Chinese Dynasties, the Mongol, the French, and Americans-- by carefully studied and learned its enemies' strengths and weaknesses.  As a small and weak nation, Vietnam always avoids facing off with its behemoth enemies on battle fields, but it deploys its suitable and effective strategies, luring its enemies into its traps and ambushed or drawing the enemies into their disadvantageous position and counter attack.  The Chinese, the French, and Americans have superior fight on conventional warfare because of the size of their armies but have no experience in guerrilla warfare; the Mongol has good experience in fighting on open fields or deserts, but they have poor performing and no experience in fighting on the swam lands and tropical forests. By learning from its enemies' weaknesses, Vietnam could defeat its much larger enemies and has gradually emerged itself from a small nation in the first century to a dominant power in Indochina in 21st century.

In Similar case, the CPP is much more powerful than its opponent CNRP in both financially and militarily, but it has weakness in popular support from the people. The CNRP has no match with CPP in most scenarios except political and electoral supports from the people.  The CPP can't survive with free and fair election. Thus the CNRP has to avoid all confrontations and provocative acts with the CPP since it's too weak to bear a brunt of repercussions. The CNRP still holds upper hand on popular support from the people, thus the party should devote its energy to strengthen the party and adopt a clear guideline policy for the party, sending its MPs to help and solve problems for the people and spread the party's policies for the next election. The seven-point policy that the party campaigned in previous election is still popular and well supported from most people. For border issue, the party has a chance to refute it with the Royal Academy of Cambodia under Sok Touch's coordination though he is still viewed by many people as another CPP's tool, he is still a person who can sit between the two parties in talking about border issue; it's better than placing CNRP's border experts talking directly with Var Kim Hong or Koy Phisey that lead to more political heat up.  On the other hand, the CNRP should educate all party officials to speak or make all statements publicly in line with the party policies, as Sam Rainsy called for his party members to respect culture of dialogue during his Prison visit. The CNRP members should learn from the CPP how they communicate publicly; you can ask question to many CPP officials from Sok Eye San to Phy Siphan, they will give you the same answer; they dare not to make any contradiction to their boss or their party's policies even if the answer is against their conscience. 

Actually, the CNRP's leadership is not as strong as the CPP.  From the top to lower party ranks, they frequently contradict their statements or opinions with the party's policy and strategy.  To be a strong and effective political party, all party's leaderships and officials must learn to speak one language in public relation other while the party will face danger and lose trust from the public.  For instances, Senator Hong Sok Hour, though his works is to protect national interest, he would not fall into Hun Sen's trap if he followed a guideline of the party's policies or had discussion a document with other party members about authentic of it and to get second opinion about risk and benefit of publishing this old document while the political tension is heating up.  In fact, he acted on his own without consulting with the party, and unfortunately he completely fell into Hun Sen's open iron net.  In other case, MP. Um Sam An, publicly spoke against amendment of article two of the constitution regarding to the national sovereignty and border demarcation while the Party president, Sam Rainsy has expressed his support for the amendment of the article two if it benefits the nation.  Such a conflict statement among the party's officials can weaken the party's strength, image, and lose trust from the people.  Furthermore, it create a good opportunity for Hun Sen to gain more upper hand to attack or even to break up the party in someday.

To fight enemies or opponents who are much bigger, stronger, and more powerful in most scenarios, demands highly political expertise and prudent strategy, noticing the opponents' weakness and strength and try to lure them into their weakness position before confronting with them.  To fight the CPP more effectively is not to challenge with them in court or to battle them on the streets, as we have seen the outcomes--more bloodshed and prison terms awaited-- but to face off with them on ballot boxes in which CNRP has more advantageous than them if election contest is free and fair.  The CNRP has enough lessons to learn, in 2009 Sam Rainsy faced 12 years in jail for uprooting a temporary border post with Vietnam and published fake documents charged by the current court system. Though he did not serve a jail term, but it costed him nearly four-year in exile.  Now Hong Sok Hour just repeated the same mistake.  Hong Sok Hour, as a senator and party border expert, he should carefully examine any document he will publish especially in the current situation.  He may have more choices that can secure him from falling into Hun Sen's trap; he can bring that document along with other maps to verify and rebut with the Royal Academy Research Group under Sok Touch's coordination. Then Hun Sen would not find any pretext to throw him in jail, and he still has time to continue his work to protect the nation interest. Even Hong Sok Hour published that so called phony document, the CNRP still has nothing to gain, but it has just aggravated the already tense situation.  The border issue-related documents and news have been flooding into the media networks for years, and many people even pay no attention, but Hun Sen does, for he has planned to trap his opponents.  Now its' too late, Hong Sok Hour was in jail and his work on border issue suspended. So, as Hun Sen still practices the culture of violence, the CNRP should take it seriously; if in some circumstances they need to walk on a tightrope, they should do so in order to reach their final goal of bringing a real change for the country.

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