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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CIC surveys say Hun Sen and CPP lead the pack

CIC surveys say Hun Sen and CPP lead the pack

IFRASSORC's only apparent competition in the Cambodian opinion poll market appears

to be the little-known Cambodian Information Center (CIC).

Huy Sophan, director of IFRASSORC, said the CIC sells its opinion poll information

for $4,000 and advertises a telephone number but no office address.

But despite the relatively hefty price for CIC polls, a batch of them was published

in the May 30-June 6 editions of The Evening News, a pro-Hun Sen Khmer-language newspaper.

The published summaries of the CIC's results, dating from 1986 to 1997, display widespread

support for both King Norodom Sihanouk and the CPP and often conflict with the information

gathered by IFRASSORC.

The CIC found in 1997 that 51% of respondents favored the CPP, compared with 15%

in support of Prince Norodom Ranariddh's Funcinpec and 2% in support of Sam Rainsy's

political organization, then named the Khmer Nation Party. Those results are in stark

contrast to IFRASSORC, whose polls suggest that the CPP and the Sam Rainsy Party

(SRP) are running about equal in popularity with Funcinpec placing a distant third.

The CIC also did not receive as many "no opinion" responses as IFRASSORC

- 22% compared to more than 60%.

In a comparison of Cambodian political leaders, the CIC found King Sihanouk was the

most popular, followed by Hun Sen, CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin, CPP President

Chea Sim and Prince Ranariddh. Both Sam Rainsy and former BLDP President Son Sann

were shown to have only marginal support.

Additionally, the King's popularity has apparently fluctuated, with a high of 68-72%

in 1986, a fall to 56% in June 1996 and a recent period of swift ups and downs of

56% to 65% to 57%.

The CIC polls also delve into the strengths and weaknesses of individual political

personalities. The results range from insightful to startling to comical.

King Sihanouk's strengths include: he does not control the government so he cannot

be said to affect the economy; he guided the country through a period of peace in

the 1960s; and "his hands are very soft and cold so we want one day to touch

them".

One positive comment was that "the King has religious power so none of his children

can be his successor or have the same power as him".

Another opinion attributed to "mostly old ladies in Kampot, Pursat, Phnom Penh

and Kampong Speu" reasoned: "If the father is crazy, he is still the father.

So if he goes outside undressed, we as his children should wrap a krama over his

body."

Attributes considered hindrances to the King's popularity included: "The King

favors his Royal family too much;" "The King adheres to Buddhist principles

but he becomes angry quickly, and when he is angry, he leaves Cambodia immediately;"

and that a period of peace expected to embrace Cambodia after King Sihanouk's return

in 1992 has not arrived as expected.

Another complaint about the King, according to the report, was that he was "resistant

to the influence of foreign countries during the Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime, but

now he is intimidated by foreigners and tries to be in favor of them".

Although the strengths of the CPP are not expounded upon in the published polls,

one CIC survey mentioned that a CPP weakness was a general dislike for district chiefs

and provincial governors. Although Hun Sen is said to have widespread popularity,

negative sentiment against the chiefs and governors is expected to hurt him on polling

day.

The CIC concluded that Hun Sen supporters might not vote for the CPP for the following

reasons: government officials have not fought hard enough against corruption; some

policemen, government soldiers and military police are not content; there are chronic

problems within the judiciary; and "Hun Sen's immediate family... is quite good,

but some of his relatives and businessmen who use Hun Sen's name do not make people

happy."

Prince Ranariddh's reported strengths are that he looks like his father, King Sihanouk;

he is closely associated with his father; the Prince is expected to take the throne

after Sihanouk; and "even if he has many wives, it is OK because he is a prince".

Ranariddh's weaknesses include: his voice is difficult to understand; he mimics his

father too much and therefore "has nothing of his own"; and that his party

has split many times so that now "good members of Funcinpec no longer work for

Ranariddh".

One CIC poll also found that 8% of respondents believed last July's fighting was

a coup d'état staged by Hun Sen against Ranariddh; 32% believed it was a Ranariddh-staged

coup against Hun Sen; and 42% believed it was a government crackdown on "Khmer

Rouge and anarchic forces".

In a summary of "important opinions" expressed by its polls, the CIC stated

that government employees and trade workers were apparently better off during the

State of Cambodia regime than during the present Royal Government of Cambodia; and

that Cambodians' standard of living decreased after 1993 but has risen a little bit

since July 1997.

The poll summary also posed the questions: "How can it be a democracy when a

father is a King while his son is a prime minister?" and; "How can it be

a democracy if Hun Sen has not changed the district chiefs for more than 10 years?"

The CIC is rumored to be run by Om Yienteng, an adviser to Second Prime Minister

Hun Sen who is reported to have conducted political party popularity polls in Kandal

province early last year that reflected poor support for the CPP.

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