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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Election chic on the campaign trail

Election chic on the campaign trail


Printing frenzy: Funcinpec T-shirts get the finishing touch.


ou can feel it in the air-election season has begun. Loudspeakers blare out party

slogans, and campaigners traipse around the country, reminding you that polling day

is near.

But for the fashion conscious, there is another reason to hail the coming of the

campaign. A flurry of election T-shirts, caps and watches means you can ditch that

Britney Spears or Michael Owen T-shirt and don the rags of your party of choice.

Printing frenzy has gripped the city as the main contenders battle to deck out as

many party-faithful as possible. But does this guarantee a vote? Not necessarily,

says Funcinpec parliamentarian Chhim Narith.

"It is really difficult to read their minds," he says. "Sometimes

they feel honored to wear the T-shirt, [but] people in the provinces will take anything

you give them. Inside your heart, you do not know who they will vote for."

Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) spokesman Ung Bun Ang agrees that some punters simply enjoy

a bit of cost-free fashion.

"A lot of our supporters are very poor and will appreciate the T-shirts,"

he says. "The majority would wear them because they support the SRP. The others

because it is a T-shirt and will cover them."

So if loyalty is not the main focus, why not color-coordinate or mix and match? How

about the royal look? Team up the canary-yellow T-shirt of the Norodom Chakrapong

Proloeung Khmer Party, emblazoned with the image of Prince Chakrapong himself, and

combine with a Funcinpec baseball cap, which sports the fetching logo of Prince Ranariddh's

face staring out from the Independence Monument.

For that night-time stroll, you could combine the understated candle motif on the

Sam Rainsy Party's T-shirts with the decadent, diamond-studded watch of the Cambodian

People's Party (CPP). But beware-ruling party insiders tell the Post these timekeeping

gems are only given out to deserving CPP members, so wearing an opposition shirt

might preclude you from that honor.

CPP supporter Boubethel is proud of his watch, and says he feels "very handsome"

in a CPP shirt and cap. His shirt is one of 200,000 already printed.

The thrifty Chakrapong party makes all its merchandise in the party leader's office

to keep costs down, but has also managed to churn out 200,000 shirts and caps in

flamboyant yellow.

The SRP is a little behind with only 50,000 T-shirts and caps in circulation, but

Bun Ang says the shirts are stylish and in demand.

The T-shirt frenzy can be seen in the shops along the capital's Norodom Boulevard.

Outside one, staff are screen-printing hundreds of Funcinpec shirts.

"I'm very happy producing T-shirts and caps for the political parties, because

I can make more income for my family," says owner Nara. "But right now

there are also a lot of competitors."

And frankly, says Funcinpec's Chhim Narith, if you are after quality gear, you might

want to avoid election fashion altogether.

"The quality is not so good," he says of his party's generally flimsy offerings.

"It is not for the long term."

And finally, the Post asks, for the aspiring fashionista, will a Funcinpec T-shirt

impress your friends?

"If you talk about stylish and trendy, in Cambodia anything goes," he concludes.



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