For proof his party’s policies are “practical”, look no further than reforms pursued by the CPP, opposition president Kem Sokha told supporters in Kampong Cham yesterday, suggesting some of the opposition’s 2013 election platform – derided by critics in the CPP as “impossible” – had been embraced by the ruling party.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party president pointed to the government’s plans to raise civil servants wages and lower electricity prices as examples that the opposition’s pledges could work, according to a post on his Facebook account.
“Even if a party does not win the election, [its policy] can lead to positive change,” the post stated. “In fact, in 2013, the CNRP’s policy was to increase civil servants salary to a minimum of 1 million riel [per month, about $250]; at the time, some said it was impossible, but now it works.”
Nine months prior to the last national ballot, Prime Minister Hun Sen said raising civil servant wages was unfeasible without a tax increase for farmers. But in October 2014, 15 months after the CNRP came close to defeating the ruling party, the premier announced plans for a staggered raise for civil servants to a minimum of $250 a month by 2018, the same figure proposed by the opposition.
The government also raised the minimum wage for garment workers and announced plans to lower electricity prices, which were among other CNRP campaign promises.
Sokha had pointed out similar consistencies just over a year ago, with Hun Sen angrily accusing him at the time of “deceiving citizens”.
Yesterday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan again denied his party was following the CNRP’s lead. “The CPP follows the CPP’s policies, not the CNRP’s policies,” he said, adding their promises were impractical.
“They made promises, but they did not fulfil their promises. They failed to win [the election] so they could not do it.”
In their online policy platform, the CNRP also proposes a $10 monthly pension for those aged over 65 and community-run microfinance institutions for farmers with low interest rates among their pledges.
Though Sokha, who took over the reins from former CNRP president Sam Rainsy last month, was unreachable yesterday, his chief of cabinet, Muth Chantha, said the platform was “realistic”.
With less than four months until the commune elections, the party has also recently drawn ruling party fire for a new slogan urging voters to replace local officials who “serve the party”, with those who “serve the people”.
The CPP has threatened legal action, calling the slogan insulting. Eysan said the party was waiting for the Interior Ministry to decide whether to take action against the party over the catchphrase, saying the CPP stood ready to pursue the matter through the courts “immediately” if that approach was not successful.