Friday, November 6, 2015

Can Cambodian politcal atmosphere return to detente?

[Sam Rainsy was welcomed by his supporters when he arrived at airport, image Sam Rainsy Facebook]
By Khmer Wathanakam

The return of CNRP's president Sam Rainsy to the country with thousands of enthusiastic supporters welcomed him home without any incident has made many people feel more released and sense of new detente.  Many observers and analysts had warned ahead of Sam Rainsy's return that he might face more threats and even imprisonment by Hun Sen.  However, Sam Rainsy returned to the country, encountering with only a warm welcomed crowds of his supporters, but his peaceful return can't go on without a backdoor deal with Hun Sen first.  As we have learned that Hun Sen had demanded Sam Rainsy apologized him for comparing his violent tactic against CNRP's PMs to the Fascists in Italy, and Hun Sen also had warned that Sam Rainsy might face jail term for his collusion with Senator Hong Sok Hour on charged of forgery on Vietnam-Cambodia border treaty.  Despite those threats by Hun Sen are real or empty ones, no one can't predict Hun Sen'd move and guarantee Sam Rainsy's safe return.  To clarify such an uncertainty, Sam Rainsy needs to use realpolitik: a system of politics based on country's real situation and it needed rather than on ideas about what is morally right or wrong.  Although Sam Rainsy's comparison is well reflected to Hun Sen's actions and behavior, he has to apologize Hun Sen for his comparison as overstate in order to avert more political tension.  Nonetheless, Hun Sen had to step back too by accepting Sam Rainsy's apology privately, not publicly as he had demanded.  And Hun Sen reaffirmed that "the Culture of Dialogue" between the two parties would continue.  For Sam Rainsy, though this apology private or public, he has repeated his mistakes.  Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha may avoid these humiliations and counterproductive for the party if they did not miscalculate and have good judgement on Hun Sen's behavior.

Sam Rainy and Kem Sokha should learn that political rhetoric and provocative speeches have never brought positive result for themselves and the party but political backlashes and counterproductive.  As a weaker party and adhered to nonviolent principle, they should not use any provocative speech, instead focus on building the party strength and garnering support from the people by frequently visiting the grassroots, educating and spreading the party principle and policies for the next election.  The party can prove its confidence of winning the incoming election by showing its good policies and principle, avoiding name referring or comparing their opponents to whatever unnecessary, but let the people make their own judgement, the more violence and intimidation Hun Sen has committed against CNRP, the more sympathy and support it receive from the people.  Hun Sen's violent tactic against CNRP is also his counterproductive since he just portrays himself as a real evil leader.
  CNRP should expose all the ruling party's negative policies on economic, land management, corruption, incompetence in protecting national sovereignty and enforcing immigration law and so forth.  We have already seen a lot of positive signs for the party; wherever Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha go, they are always receive warm welcome and support from the people in all levels in the society-- workers, farmers, vendors, teachers, students, youths, monks, elderly and many minority groups, Khmer Islam, and tribal groups. Thus the party leaders don't have to compare or accuse their opponents as fascists, losers, or foreign puppets, but they should try to expose their actions and policies that have led the country to destruction.  The people will make their good judgement when they are well informed.

Sam Rainsy should learn from his past mistakes; in 2009 when he visited Cambodia-Vietnam border post, seeing an unusual and temporary border post installed on Khmer farmer rice field, he quickly uprooted it without thinking a consequence of his action. Should he just exposed that illegal post to the press and the people, he would avoid 12 year-jail term that forced him to flee in self-exile for nearly four years.  Though Hun Sen requested royal pardon for him, actually Hun Sen is a person who had imprisoned him and also the person had released him. As Hun Sen recalled his new threat that he used to pardon Sam Rainsy twice already and this time he wouldn't do again.  Sam Rainsy can escape HunSen's political trap easily if he has good judgement and be more flexible; he doesn't need to use realpolitik. Hun Sen goal is to humiliate Sam Rainsy to the public as coward, incompetent, liar, and provocateur. However, most people well understood about Hun Sen' behavior and trick.  In Cambodian political stage, Hun Sen has played roles as an asura as well as a devada.  Most of his opponents whom had been imprisoned by Hun Sen always had been released by him too.  In such a current predicament, Sam Rainy has to force himself again to apologize Hun Sen even privately, but Hun Sen has waste no time announced it publicly that can hurt Sam Rainsy's political image.

For Kem Sokha, he had received numerous warnings from Hun Sen regarding his personal attack and provocative speeches. In 2013 election campaign, Kem Sokha called Tuol Sleng prison known as S-21, a set up prison by Vietnamese invaders; it sounded unreasonable and baseless that caused Chum Mey, a victim of S-21 to organize protest against him and fully supported by Hun Sen, thanks to non-violence. There were numerous issues that Kem Sokha should expose to the people that Hun Sen regime had failed to implement; why he picked a wrong topic at a wrong time. After going into the parliament to work with the CPP, Kem Sokha started attacked the CPP and Hun Sen as the communist dictators and the worst regime in history.  Then Hun Sen fiercely warned Kem Sokha to tune down his rhetoric but he seemed miscalculate Hun Sen's warning. And recently, Kem Sokha recalled Hun Sen's word threat of war if CPP lost election as a confirmation Hun Sen knew that he would lose.  Such a provocative speech has cost Kem Sokha his vice president post of the National Assembly, the only top position that CNRP holds in the parliament though without significant power but a symbolic of the party achievement.

Now Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha probably have enough lessons and mistakes to learn, and they should review them carefully in order to avert political backlashes, humiliation, and to regain trust from their supporters by setting a clear goal and policy for the party.  It's easier to avoid mistake than to make it: Senator Hong Sok Hour, without a good judgement, posted an unauthentic document about Cambodia-Vietnam treaty that just gave Hun Sen a perfect excuse to imprison him unjustly. What did Hong Sok Hour gain from that posting? Nothing, but Hun Sen ordered him arrested and treated him like animal or as a real criminal.  What did Sam Rainsy gain from uprooting a small border post in 2009 and recently compare Hun Sen to Fascist? Probably nothing significant but cost him four years in exile and humiliation when he apologized Hun Sen whom most people have hated.  What did Kem Sokha gain when he called the S-21 as an artificial prison set up by Vietnam? Not only it sounded irrational but it discredits him since he had no proof to support his claim.  And finally he drifted himself into Hun Sen's trap that cost his top job when he claimed that Hun Sen had sensed his defeated in the next election. This is an irresponsible and naive speech he should not repeat as a leader of the opposition party.  How did he know, how can he predict his opponent defeated if election is still more than two years away? Although most analysts called Kem Sokha removal from his vice president post of the National Assembly unconstitutional and violated the two party-previous agreement,  Kem Sokha himself is part of Hun Sen's zero-sum game.

This is CNRP's fait accompli, what they have done can't be reversed.  Now Hong Sok Hour has been in jail, Sam Rainsy apologized Hun Sen who did not deserve it, and Kem Sokha lost his vice president post of the National Assembly.  This is a zero-sum game that CNRP should avoid playing with Hun Sen as he had repeatedly warned that he would accommodate playing game with CNRP either hot or cold until the end along with his specific threat, "if you get mad don't play and if you play don't get mad." just less than 24 hours ahead of the violent mobs beat up two CNRP's MPs.  Now the CNRP leadership have to use realpolitik, adjusting themselves to a real situation on the ground as needed rather than thinking what is politically or morally rights or wrong.  Aung Sann Sukyi has vowed to use conciliatory tone towards the pro-military government by presenting herself and her party as the best choice for the people, refraining from provocative speeches or actions against the regime. Albeit most public opinions thought that Hun Sen had treated his partner, CNRP, unfairly and unacceptably in all circumstances, CNRP should observe realpolitik in order to achieve its final goal of bringing true democracy, national independence, and social justice to all people.  To bring back detente, CNRP needs to play realpolitik but avoid a zero-sum game, when the winner took all and the loser get nothing, that Hun Sen has been playing everyday for over three decades.  Without good judgement and flexibility with the CPP, more violence and political backlashes expect to happen again and will derail a good opportunity for CNRP in the next election.

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