Wednesday, 9 May 2018

How Sam Rainsy Might Help Build Hun Sen’s Legacy

“Kem Sokha is still the party president. So, what [Rainsy] appeals, even if it benefits the CNRP, it opposes the CNRP’s spirit because he is making decisions instead of the CNRP. It violates our rights.”

Former CNRP official Ou Chanrath, 30 April 2018, The Phnom Penh Post

“I compare the party which has been pushed to join the fake election to an ahp [an evil spirit with a head but no body] party.”

CNRM President Sam Rainsy, 2 May 2018, The Phnom Penh Post

“Our parties [Khmer Will Party and Our Motherland Party] condemn the irresponsible act for slandering and degrading political rights and the rights of the people. We, politicians and Cambodian people, completely refute Sam Rainsy’s activities.”

Khmer Will Party President Kong Monika and Our Motherland Party President Chan Bunhorn, 4 May 2018, Khmer

A leaked information is that Hun Sen has been working on Kem Sokha persuading him to accept a much-better-life offer: out of prison and millions in cash. This, indeed, comes with certain conditions: a clear dissociation with Sam Rainsy and participation in the July elections with his former Human Right Party. So far, the source says Kem Sokha refuses.

The offer is similar to the one Nhek Bun Chhay has accepted and is now out of jail. While the cash incentive is unknown, Nhek Bun Chhay will take his party to the forthcoming elections.

The source claims that Hun Sen has not yet given up on Kem Sokha. It reveals that, according to an opinion poll by a US research group commissioned by Hun Manet, the dissolved CNRP has won a substantial public sympathy for Kem Sokha, and more so for Sam Rainsy. Thus, Hun Sen’s focus is to break up the alliance of the two and get at least one of them to the elections for the sake of his next government legitimacy.

So, for how long will Kem Sokha resist the Hun Sen carrot? What might break his resolve?

Hun Sen is confident Kem Sokha will take the carrot as the alliance has been wobbling; he must thank for it Sam Rainsy’s propensity to take autocratic impulsive actions. First, a rift emerges when Sam Rainsy creates CNR Movement without any consultation with Kem Sokha, who quickly refuses to endorse it. Sam Rainsy responses by denigrating the objection.

Second, Sam Rainsy declares an official elections boycott on behalf of the CNRP as if he is still in charge. Kem Sokha’s faction in the Party promptly and emphatically dismisses his authority to speak for them. The recent first meeting of the CNRP executives, five months after the dissolution, does not support the boycott call. Spokesman Nhem Panharith says they may leave it to their supporters to decide whether they will vote. Kem Sokha must not be too impressed with the overbearing past president.

Third, Kem Sokha may not agree with Sam Rainsy’s attack on minor and new parties, especially the Khmer Will Party (KWP) that has emerged from a group of their former ardent colleagues. The attack has backfired; the KWP responds with an outright condemnation of the boycott call. The CNRP executives spokesman makes no mention of the minor parties.

It seems Sam Rainsy’s remote control of the CNRP has broken, which may become a source of frustrations for any autocrat. A persistent frustration can only lead to further errors of judgement that can push Kem Sokha to succumb to the lure of Hun Sen’s comfortable life offer.

Will Sam Rainsy’s solo performance be enough for Kem Sokha to retire? Will Sam Rainsy continue to act as though he is still in control of CNRP? If the answer is yes to any of the questions, Sam Rainsy’s comfortable lifestyle in Paris will be permanent. His political legacy will be the one that makes a greater legacy for Hun Sen.

Ung Bun Ang

By the Way

Well, it is indeed a piece of great news for those who study medicine in Vietnam. Hun Sen now accredits their Vietnamse degree which means they are no longer required to pass qualification exams to practice in Cambodia. After all, they say the six-year medical schooling in Vietnam is just a good as the eight years at local universities.

Hun Sen knows how good the Cambodian medical schools are. He always prefers overseas medical services for his needs even routine check-ups. He is too kind to say the eight-year term that students slug away at local medical schools means they are too slow in the uptake when others can do in six outside the border.

There is a tiny puzzle, though. Now that Cambodia recognises the Vietnamese medical degree, will Vietnam reciprocate and accredit the Cambodian’s? It is doubtful if Hun Sen dares raise the issue with his neighbour believing that the Cambodian schools are not up to scratch.

“We are very happy that the Health Ministry [after Hun Sen’s instruction] accepted our complaints… The Ministry has decided that studying six years of general medical practice in Vietnam is equivalent to studying medicine for eight years in Cambodia.”

Vietnam medical school student Cheb Vandara, 7 May 2018, Khmer Times

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