“If you [CNRP] don’t come to attend the session tomorrow, then I will have other jobs to do. If I don’t enter the Assembly…I would like to inform you that getting votes for the CNRP will be difficult.”
Premier Hun Sen, 8 August 2014, The Cambodia Daily
“He does not need to warn us or anything like this, we want the process to proceed smoothly. The 55 lawmakers of the CNRP will attend tomorrow.”
CNRP President Sam Rainsy, 8 August 2014, The Cambodia Daily
“His Excellency Kem Sokha has asked me to vote as a package in the meeting for both deputy president of parliament and heads of commissions. I said that it is impossible. [Sokha] is worried that he will not be elected [as deputy president]. I told him that I guarantee to encourage [CPP] lawmakers to vote for [him], and not to worry.
Premier Hun Sen, 8 August 2014, The Phnom Penh Post
It seems the CNRP stoops so low that it would need a forklift to raise its dignity. The CNRP president is right it is unnecessary for Hun Sen to deliver such warning; the premier ought to know by now that his opponents have already been tamed. However, he must pound them because this is what conquerors do to the conquered to show their power and supremacy.
If the above quote about the CNRP vice president’s cold sweat is accurate, there will be not much of anything the CNRP could bargain with the premier. The CNRP has just handed Hun Sen on a silver platter what he wants – a carte blanche for his pleasure. He will have a final say on what reforms are to go through, which ones are to be stifled through power play in form of protracted negotiations. Will he allow the NEC to do an independent and impartial job, which the CNRP claims to be their main focus? Will he repeat his 1993 mistake and lose elections again? Only more threats and warnings from the premier are certain in due course.
Unless they change their mind later, which is quite possible, the CNRP claim their national interests require them to stay “loyal to their motherland and to respect the people’s desires”. From their strategy manifesto, this means they must solve “border issues, illegal immigration, land grabbing, deforestation, government corruption, insufficient salaries, inflation, poverty, and social injustice”. This is a set of nasties that would put the CNRP in direct collision with Hun Sen, which would imply another bout of tensions is coming up.
Anyhow, Hun Sen must be satified that while the CNRP is excellent at creating tensions, they are also good at diffusing them. They say the year of tensions with parliamentary boycott and demonstrations after the July 2013 elections is just to show off “their strength and determination”. Not until their supporters are bashed and their elected parliamentarians are thrown in jail do they realise they may need more than just strength and determination.
The tension temperature plummets to zero when the CNRP take up their seats in parliament despite their junior members still in jail and others on bail for politically motivated charges. They report for duty in parliament after their conqueror’s warning of consequences for no-show; and their plea for an immediate release of the jailed members win them only a due court process without bail.
Nevertheless, any solutions to the nasties the CNRP say they want are threats to pillars of the Hun Sen regime and power. The question is: will Hun Sen go along with the CNRP solutions? A convenient answer is yes. But the real question is: how far will Hun Sen ever go? Will he entertain anything to the extent that he may lose the next elections? Unlikely.
The national interests – whatever they may mean – that bring the CNRP into Hun Sen’s fold will likely be in line with whatever that interests the premier and his personal interest groups.
Ung Bun Ang