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A government official leaves a polling station after casting her vote during last month’s general elections in Phnom Penh
A government official leaves a polling station after casting her vote during last month’s general elections in Phnom Penh. KARA FOX

Reflections of the 2013 election

Dear Editor,

There are three important conclusions from these results, even if they are temporary:

1. The CNRP, as an opposition party, was temporary winning, but they were not the winners, absolutely not.

2. The CPP was temporarily losing, but still won the majority, and they are the winners of the election, no questions asked. Therefore, the CPP has the full right and responsibility under the constitution to form the new Royal Government of Cambodia for the next five years as mandated by the majority of the Cambodia people. That’s a democratic principle.

3. Irregularities existed, and it did affect all parties, not just one party as proclaimed and should not be used as a hostage for the successful, free, fair and peaceful election. It can be improved and resolved in due time together and professionally. There is no perfect system that exists, even in all advanced countries (see the US Presidential election in 2000, George W Bush Al Gore v Al Gore). Let’s move on! It is not bargaining time.

Judging from these results, I would not characterise it as Cambodia’s tipping point as put by Ms Theary Seng, but rather Cambodia’s Adjustment Stage. Tipping is the act of falling, meaning that you are at the top of the summit and become unbalanced, then you tip and fall.

Cambodia is not falling but is moving steadily towards a promising future. The adjustment is the process of correcting, improving to suit the new changing conditions (of the country). It is the process of continuing reforms, but not to stage a revolution, as she suggested “to complete change of leadership” (sic).

Looking back over the last 60 years of Cambodian historical development, we can see that Cambodia is moving from many different stages of development. Cambodia gained independence in 1953 and after 20 years of peace and stability, Cambodia plunged back into civil wars for another 20 years (from 1970 until the democratic election in 1993).

Every two decades (or 20 years), there were times for revolution (which always failed), and times for structural adjustments to reflect the country’s changing political, social and economic landscape. During the last 20 years, Cambodia has emerged from decades of instability with an impressive record on sustained economic development through many stages of development: from the rehabilitation phase (1993-1998) which was initiated since 1989, to the reconstruction phase (1999-2003) and the take-off phase (2004-2008).

In 2012, the GDP per capita was $984 (in 1995, it was $278), and about 20 per cent of the population was judged to live below the poverty line. In governance, the ongoing reform process of decentralisation and de-concentration (D&D), which aims at strengthening local governance and public service delivery, is opening new perspectives to promote democracy, improve development opportunities, reduce poverty and ensure sustainable, equitable and inclusive development.

A war against poverty had been declared, and gradually conquered on many fronts. Cambodia is moving in the right direction and the country’s performance assessment is relatively high and is achieving more positive results. But challenges still remain.

1. There is no democratic country in the world that would change its leadership in the government, when its economic development is strong and growing, achieving political stability, maintaining peace, security and safety of the people and its territorial integrity is maintained and secure. To suggest “complete change of leadership” is tantamount to a coup d’etat.

See the events of March 18, 1970, and now it is happening in Egypt, and whatever it is called, it is the work of interference in a sovereign state. The 2013 election results did reflect the people’s choice, through a democratic process.

Democracy is not imported. It must grow from the grassroots up through social and economic development. Ignorance is the source of all sufferings.

2. The so-called Spring Revolution is again “Monkeys see, monkeys do”. The Kingdom of Cambodia is independent, sovereign, peaceful, permanently neutral and a non-aligned country. Furthermore, Cambodia does not have winter, spring, summer or fall seasons as in other countries, but it does have two seasons – a dry season and a wet season. Any suggestion that the “July 2013 election gave the opportunity to usher in a “Cambodian spring” is tantamount to self-destruction, or suicide, and is completely out of context.

3. Ms Theary Seng, attempted to elevate Mr Sam Rainsy to become the father of the Cambodian people, replacing the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk. His stature is not comparable to the King Father.

This is too much and a very offensive statement. The country should be led by honest and well-respected politicians/statesmen, and not by activists. Judging from the racism rhetoric, accusations, manipulations, calls for mass demonstrations, it sounds like the works of activists, and not honest politicians or a statesman. It is the difference between reform-minded and revolutionary.

The country is much larger than all parties combined. Cambodia is not tipping, but instead is moving forward to a bright and promising future. Therefore, the integrity and the interests of the country are much more important to all.

Give peace a chance.

Ngy Chanphal is a secretary of state in the Ministry of Interior and vice-chair of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development



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