The CPP Congress Sideshow
“Secondly, misconduct such as corruption, nepotism, the abuse of power, big gaps between upper and lower-level officials, between government officials and the people, between rich and poor, the lack of confidence in the judicial system, inequality, the effectiveness of the implementation of laws which remains so limited, the issue of public services, land and forest issues…made people lose trust in our leadership.”
A CPP leaked report distributed at the party’s congress, 31 January 2015, The Cambodia Daily
“Our seats decreased because the other party has joined together, so it has a lot of seats...If the party [CPP] does not unite, it will not endure the storm.”
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, 2 February 2015, The Cambodia Daily
“Critics of the government and the CPP have not valued our achievements over the last 30 years... They are not constructive critics, and they exaggerate the truth.”
Newly appointed primary CPP spokesman Chhim Phal Virun, 7 February 2015, The Phnom Penh Post
The CPP know. They know what they have put Cambodia through for an impressive GPD growth that comes with concrete jungles and severe depletion of natural resources. The question now is: can they, or will they, address issues raised in their own confidential report leaked at the recent party’s congress. The short answer is: no, they can’t, and they won’t.
First, any genuine reforms to tackle the issues the CPP say make them lose the public trust and support are a direct threat to their power and wealth accumulation for their personal interest groups. As this has been at the expense of public interest, it is a tough choice between human greed and public interest.
Second, there is no need to address those issues. For instance, Hun Sen pledges to chop his own head off if he cannot stop illegal logging. He fails, and breaks the promise; though some would say he has stopped illegal logging by making them legal – just ask Try Pheap, a prominent beneficiary of Hun Sen’s legalised logging. Immediately after the 2013 elections that deliver a shocking loss, Hun Sen asks his personal interest groups to look at themselves in the mirror and scrub corruption dirt off their body, giving all naive an impression that he himself is Mr clean. Nothing much has since happened; otherwise, the leaked CPP report would not raise the corruption issue sixteen months later. After all these botches, they are still in power.
As Khieu Kanharith sees it, the 2013 elections setback is due to a merger of the HRP and SRP – not the sideshow issues spelled out in the leaked report. Thus, to overcome the opposition “storm”, the CPP must be united.
And they take this party unity thing seriously. They admit into the CPP central committee more than a dozen children of top party leaders to ensure continuity of whatever their father has secured for the family. These fresh brains and intellect are unlikely to rock the boat, however. It is much easier to go with the flow like a dead fish than putting their family power and wealth at risks.
Another good measure is to ensure the party remain in control of the armed forces. At least 80 of the 306 new members of the CPP’s expanded central committee are commanders of police and army forces, including a disciple of Hitler and the Viets who has no hesitation in shooting unarmed protesters. The armed forces also swear allegiance by to Hun Sen and his family. These are insurance policies so that Hun Sen always has an option of not transferring power in an unexpected election loss.
Finally, to put on a finishing touch on their new political agenda for status quo, the CPP has just announced three newly-appointed spokesmen. They are charged with the responsibility of deflecting all criticisms the party say “destructive”, and putting positive spins on anything that moves. The critical point is to deal with these criticisms, not addressing those in the leaked CPP report.
Ung Bun Ang
How lucky. Cambodia has so many born leaders with divine connection.
“Can you imagine the kids of 34 [standing committee] members, all of whom think they deserve to step into their parents’ shoes? All of whom think they’re God’s gift to Cambodia?”
Occidental College Associate Professor Sophal Ear, 28 January 2015, The Phnom Penh Post
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