Thursday, 20 October 2016

Hun Sen Targets Diaspora Markets

“…Why Cambodia is bothered too much by its diaspora market? … The diaspora is a tiny market for votes, a relatively small market for financing the opposition, and a sunset market. I'm unsighted as to why the fight over that market is so serious by CPP.” 

Centre for Policy Studies Director Chan Sophal, 10 October 2016, Campro [professional network]

“If Sam Rainsy came to be with me, it would be better than me being alone. But if he does not decide to come back, we can still run the party without him.”

CNRP Acting president Kem Sokha, 12 October 2016, The Phnom Penh Post

“So please, your majesty with your soul resting in peace, use your power to lift up Khmer politicians to unite the nation again and find reconciliation for all Khmers to be happy.”

CNRP Acting president Kem Sokha, 17 October 2016, The Cambodia Daily

Economist Chan Sophal asks the very pertinent question. Hun Sen for the last few years has sent his eldest son into what Chan Sophal calls diaspora “market”.  He says he refers to it as market because there is a competition.

Anyway, Chan Sophal is perplexed by the logic of Hun Sen’s venture into the markets. He argues the markets, which have so far largely funded Hun Sen’s opponents in Cambodia, are a dying breed; they will disappear within 10-20 years by natural causes. He says, compared with the CPP’s financial muscles, the diaspora political contributions to CNRP are pittances. Thus, he contends there is no need to compete in these “sunset” markets. They do not even vote.

Nevertheless, Chan Sophal may misread Hun Sen’s diaspora policy. While he is thinking of competitive markets where fairness rules, autocrat Hun Sen eyes a monopoly. Chan Sophal may not know Hun Sen is a control freak who wants all monopolistic power both in politics and the markets.

Inside Cambodia, Hun Sen’s strong-arm tactics have paid off; they have instilled fear in the people, especially among his opponents and critics. Only brave loudmouths are those who justify, or find excuses for, whatever Hun Sen can come up with. In their mind, the silent majority is simply stupid, ready to swallow anything.

Amid the subdued is a timid CNRP. Hun Sen’s intimidation makes their head spin. Scores of their MPs and senators are in exile or jail, or on their way there. The deputy president has been holed up in their headquarters, longing for a return from exile of the president who maintains he has higher priorities. They beg the king for pardons eventhough they insist they have done nothing wrong or illegal, only to be rejected by Hun Sen, who overshadows the king. The deputy president is so despondent he prays for late Sihanouk’s help.

Now that he has the domestic market in his pocket, Hun Sen turns his focus onto the diaspora for a complete monopoly in Cambodian politics. Autocratic Hun Sen may be too impatient to tolerate the Chan Sophal sunset markets. Autocrats usually want everything yesterday.

There are, however, some splinters Hun Sen must remove from his skin. First, the threat and fear he has so successfully instilled in the local psyche may not be effective in the diaspora communities. Any violence that openly works in Cambodia may not be so easily executed and covered up where impunity is not an option. Second, while the domestic media largely dance to Hun Sen’s tunes, the rest of the world does not. Hun Sen must shut down these international media to prevent uncovering any unsavoury information he claims to be falsified.

However, a glimpse of hope is that if the diaspora communities are seen as markets, where money is usually exchanged for goods and services, Hun Sen still has an option of buying the monopoly with his monies.

The question is then whether the diaspora communities will sell out their soul. Will you?

Ung Bun Ang

By The Way

«គណៈកម្មការ​នៅ​ជំហរ​ដដែល ព្រោះ​ថា​​នេះ​ជា​ទី​វត្តអារាម​ដែល​យើង​ត្រូវ​ធ្វើ​បុណ្យ ហើយ​ព្រះចៅ​អធិការ​ក៏​បាន​ឯកភាព​ហើយ។ អ៊ីចឹង​យើង​បាន​ប្រកាស​ហើយ នេះ​ជា​ជំហរ​គណៈកម្មការ។ គណៈកម្មការ​ជូន​ដំណឹង​ទៅ​សាលា​ក្រុង​ មិន​មែន​សុំ​ការ​អនុញ្ញាត​ពី​សាលាក្រុង​ទេ ប៉ុន្តែ​សាលាក្រុង​បែរ​ជា​ចេញ​លិខិត​បដិសេធ។ និយាយ​រួម​គឺ​នៅ​តែ​វត្ត​ចាស់ ដដែល យើង​ជូន​ដំណឹង​ដោយសារ​​ព្រះចៅ​អធិការ​លោក​អនុញ្ញាត»

សមាជិក​គណៈកម្មការ​បុណ្យ លោក សៅ កុសល ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី ៧ ខែ តុលា ឆ្នាំ​២០១៦ វិទ្យុ​អាស៊ីសេរី 

If the timid CNRP ever needed lessons in overcoming the CPP threats, the experience of the committee organising the 100-day commemoration for Kem Ley might offer some clue. The committee understands Hun Sen’s thinking far better than the CNRP does. When Hun Sen refuses permission for them to hold the commemoration at Wat Chas, the committee makes it so blunt to him that his objection will not stop them from proceeding. Then Hun Sen backs down.

Why does the committee decide to defy Hun Sen? They must know Kem Ley commands so much respect from so many people that it will be extremely difficult for Hun Sen to go against the people’s power. They are right.

Why does Hun Sen back down? Definitely not for the love of, or respect for, Kem Ley. He must be fearful of the people’s power that Kem Ley still commands. His armed forces would not have enough time and bullets to shoot them all. He is also right to back down in this instance. Nevertheless, he must be now working to silence the committee members one-by-one later, either through jail or assassination. His adversaries seem to be ready, anyhow.

Still, the CNRP leadership may appreciate the audacity of the organising committee only after first acquiring some backbone.

Nota Bene - It is regrettable I may be duped into using in the last Pseng- Pseng edition the photo of the Cambodia’s strong couple standing with troops reviewed by Vietnam prime minister. I assumed the photo was legit after it had been floated in the cyber space for a few years and the CPP had not bothered to shoot it down, or search and jail the photo doctor.

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