A New Era for Hun Sen’s Cambodia?

Discussion in 'Asia' started by Disir, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    Arguably the real story of Cambodia’s election late last month was that Prime Minister Hun Sen has effectively pulled the bamboo curtain down on a quarter century of multiparty democracy in the Southeast Asian state.

    With his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) winning all 125 seats in the National Assembly, Cambodia has all but completed its transition to a one party-state. And with the effective shutting out of 19 minority parties in an election that was slammed by pro-democracy advocates as rigged, Hun Sen and the CPP look to be embarking on a new era in governing Cambodia that brings with it no shortage of uncertainties.

    Results-wise, Cambodia’s election itself was over before it began. Hun Sen effectively ran a one horse race after he accused the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) of fomenting a “color revolution.” The CNRP was dissolved by the courts, its leader Kem Sokha jailed as his supporters fled, and a crackdown on independent media followed.

    The thuggery that accompanied the political landscape of recent years was featured heavily by international broadcasters, like ABC in Australiaand Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, in the lead up to the poll. Nonetheless, the glowing accounts of the CCP’s victory, in contrast to polls in 2013 where the CNRP shocked the ruling party by winning almost half of the popular vote, was parroted by local media, which has lost much of its independence through forced closures and sales.

    Those accounts ignored the reality that stories of people being forced to vote were whispered and rife after months of heavy-handed campaigning and bullying by the authorities, accompanied by warnings of retribution for those who backed CNRP calls for an election boycott. Or the fact that international reports of a senior minister paying bribes to local journalists on the day were ignored by the local press.

    A closer look at some of the initial numbers also indicated that irregularities might be at work. For instance, even the National Election Committee initially did add that at least 9.1 percent of the ballots were invalid, an enormous protest vote when compared with just 1.6 percent five years ago. One independent observer said that figure was as high as 14 percent in Phnom Penh and 25 percent in other provincial towns.

    Endorsements by election observers, also known as “zombie monitors,” from China, Russia, India, and Vietnam, added to the sham election narrative. Foreign Policy put it bluntly under the headline: “Fake Monitors Endorse Cambodia’s Sham Election.”
    A New Era for Hun Sen’s Cambodia?

    Yep, once the CNRP was dissolved it was all over but the crying.
     

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