Youths dancing raucously “like drug addicts” in the streets. “Gangsters” causing trouble under the guise of campaigning for the opposition. A lone man screaming that a vote for the ruling party is a vote for Vietnam.
All this — according to government-controlled television — is the Cambodia National Rescue party gone wild, its supporters out of control.
Days after ignoring the return of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, a homecoming that drew more than 100,000 people to the streets, the Cambodian News Channel has produced a 14-minute news feature that purports to reveal the “gangster”-like behaviour of opposition campaigners.
The feature, which has since been shown on CTN and posted on government-controlled news websites, flicks between scenes of “public disorder” and outrage from those appalled by it. In one part, opposition supporters are accused of meeting up only to cause trouble. Such trouble, however, is not shown.
In another scene, played repeatedly, a man who shouts that a vote for the CPP is a vote for Vietnam is described as representing the CNRP’s widespread descent into racist tactics.
City authorities have said they will not fine supporters on either side for unruly road behaviour — but footage of cheering CNRP youths on motorbikes and supporters disobeying traffic police is used to describe them as “out of control”.
Those objecting to such “anarchy” describe the CNRP campaigners as “gangsters”, aggressive, “like drug addicts”, and lacking in education and dignity. Som Chhaya, deputy director general of Cambodia Broadcasting Service (CBS), which is in charge of CNC, CTN, and MyTV, said yesterday that CNC made the report because it was worried.
“I’m concerned there might be severe violence and chaos everywhere, and the authorities will not be able to control it.”
CNRP candidate Son Chhay can’t understand this position.
“Our youths are quite disciplined and responsible,” he said. “They should give us air time to respond [to these allegations].”
But Chhay was not surprised that television networks were focusing on anti-CNRP reports rather than bigger issues.
“Why didn’t they show the return of Sam Rainsy?”
Asked this, Chhaya, from CBS, said the network was simply catering to its audience.
“We must give them what they want,” he said.
“Rainsy’s arrival is not interesting for our viewers.”