Monday, November 16, 2015

Should Sam Rainsy return to live in notorious prison Prey Sar?

[Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha meet supporters in Korea, image Sam Rainsy's Facebook]
By Khmer Wathanakam

Following of an exchange of political rhetoric between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy, arrest warrant had been issued for Sam Rainsy; this is probably a final political offensive that Hun Sen unleashed in order to eliminate his potential rival from political stage, and Sam Rainsy not only faced a dilemma but perhaps an end of his political career after he had gone through with it nearly three decades since early 1980s with very little success. Actually, Sam Rainsy is not a real politician but a technocrat.  He earned no Political Science Degree but Economics, Business, and Finance.  And he seemed enter politics accidentally when he was fired from finance minister post, from parliament, and from Forncinpec in 1994.  Then in 1995, based on demands for change for people inside and outside the country, he decided to create his own political party"the Khmer Nation Party" in order to contest the 1998 election, a year after the bloody coup launched by Hun Sen to topple Prince Ranaridh from first prime minister post.  But his party later known as Sam Rainsy party never won substantial votes to run the government.  Witnessing fragmentation among opposition parties just keeping Hun Sen continued holding his power without end, in 2012, Sam Rainsy Party merged with Human Right Party led by Kem Sokha to create the most popular party, " The Cambodian National Rescue Party, CNRP." in order to unseat Hun Sen from long over due power grab more than three decades.  Despite the election in 2013 was manipulated and cheated by the ruling party, CNRP still had strong potential to push the CPP to the brink.  Although the party gains more popular supports from all levels of people, the party leadership is not strong enough to weather the thunderstorm unleashed from Hun Sen, the most paranoid and trickiest leader in Cambodian history.  Hun Sen never got any real education degree as most other leaders, but he could outwit all his opponents since the Paris Peace Accord 1991, by relying on his strong political networks and power base from Hanoi.  For Sam Rainsy, a technocrat who lacks strong leadership and political skill to compete with Hun Sen whose ruthless behavior can eliminate him from political arena sooner or later if Sam Rainsy keeps repeated his unnecessary mistakes.

We frequently warn CNRP's leadership to carefully observe realpolitik; Cambodia is not a real democratic society but dictatorship and authoritarian regime.  So there is no equal playing field for politicians to debate or challenge with the ruling party.  Sam Rainsy should learn from his past repeated mistakes, and he needs to set his clear goal and political strategy in dealing with his powerful opponent.  He needs to sharpen his political skill and find the way to reach his goal of bringing true democracy and independence for the nation. To reach this sacred goal, he must be flexible and patient; he should not use any provocative speech and unnecessary political attacks on Hun Sen who always trick him to his trap or wait to find an excuse to eliminate him from a playing field. Most people already know that who is Hun Sen: a dictator, a murderer, a ruthless and immoral leader... But for Sam Rainsy as a leader of the opposition leader, he should refrain from using any word that deem to be personal attack on Hun Sen, but let the people make their own judgement between Hun Sen and him: who is a real traitor, a ruthless leader, a dictator, a cheater...? Why should Sam Rainsy call Hun Sen a dictator when most people already knew it. Why should Sam Rainsy called Hun Sen recently violent actions as means to destabilize the country in order to delay and get rid of the next election when the situation on the ground seems not reflected to what he said? There is no gain for the party or himself for what he has said but draw crude and ruthless response from Hun Sen who has waited for such a good opportunity to eliminate him from political scene.

If Sam Rainsy has more patient and good political strategy, he can easily avoid his current dilemma and his uncertain political fate. Observe the golden rule, "prevent better than cure."  He forgot to prevent his disease; now its' much harder to cure it.  He just forgot his recent mistake when he compared Hun Sen to a fascist then he had to force himself to apologize Hun Sen against his conscience and exposed himself to public humiliation.  Now another bigger mistake that he can prevent easily if he exercised his self-controlled or restrained on his speeches. As a politician and the largest opposition leader, he can't talk what he wants as ordinary people because every word from his leap is being read by people especially from his opponents who have tried to trap him in all opportunities. If Sam Rainsy avoided using word dictator to portray Hun Sen and repeating accusation Hun Sen of creating social chaos to delay or avert the election,  Sam Rainsy would be free to return home with cheering crowds again, but now instead of cheering crowds to welcome him, heavy armed police and military personnel were ready deployed to escort him to notorious Prey Sar Prison if he brave enough to land himself in Phnom Penh Airport as he had scheduled.  Sam Rainsy has numerous choices of word to criticize the current regime and numerous issues that he should raise when meeting his supporters and foreign dignitaries. Why he just wants to repeat what people already know and what people less interested except Hun Sen? He should raise what plan and strategy that the party need to adopt in order to win the next election as the NLD in Myanmar which had won a landslide victory. Don't be too much euphoric or jubilant over NLD's landslide victory in Myanmar when he doesn't have a clear strategy to win yet.

We very regret that Sam Rainsy can't learn from his past mistakes and to speak more fruitful and careful in order to avoid political backlash that hurt himself.  As a politician, he can't let his emotion control his speech but be vigilant on a choice of words in some circumstances, particularly in Cambodia where one man seems control everything.  He should be more clever and flexible in confronting with a dictator and a ruthless leader in order to reach a final victory.  This is a battle between Goliah and David; to wind a giant Goliah, David needs to use his praja, not his power.  Sam Rainsy can't win Goliah Hun Sen if he lacks of praja.  And what he has done so far indicated that he lacks of praja and political skill to deal with Hun Sen who has seemed outwit him in most circumstances.  Sam Rainsy even has more than enough popular supports from the people to win the next election, but he can't use his popularity to garner more support from the people; instead he naively put himself in a dangerous position in verbal confrontation with Hun Sen that leads to his political demise.  Now he has to face a dilemma for his life-- to walk into Hun Sen's notorious Prey Sar Prison or to stay in exile in order to continue his political struggle.  Now there is no best answer for him, but he's better to stay outside than walk into Hun Sen's prison because based on his age and health he may not suit to live in a crowded and bad sanitation without enough food. And worse that that Hun Sen will place him to share a room with criminals in order to humiliate him and let those criminals beat him up if they lack pity on him.  In the past all political prisoners were placed the same room with criminals such as Mom Sonando, Kem Sokha, Chem Channy, and others.  We can't compare Sam Rainsy for lacking courage to walk into prison for many times to Ms. Aung Sann Suu Kyi in Myanmar.  Actually, Aung Sann Suu Kyi never stayed in prison a single day, instead she was in her big villa with backyard faced to big beautiful lake, and had cooks and servers for 24 hours; she only couldn't go out of her compound.  In contrast, Hun Sen has never placed anyone in such a house arrest-- but to be assassinated, to be imprisoned, or to flee in exile.  If no political deal with Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy should not return; he needs to be alive and continue his struggle in exile rather than let Hun Sen persecutes him in prison.   


  1. Dear Mr. Wathanakam:

    I wonder whether your name Khmer Wathanakam is real of fake. If it is fake, what are you so afraid for not giving your real name in your blog. Who are you anyway. Naranhkiri Tith Ph.D. Washington DC November 2015

  2. He never published his real name but he did mention some where as a university student a couple years ago.