POLITICS is the hot topic of conversation at the moment, and the following taste
of what people are talking about is probably happening in bars, noodle shops and
takalok stands all over the country.
This one began, unprompted, among passengers in a taxi between Poipet and Battambang
on June 10. The Post eavesdropped - and a thousand apologies to those involved, but
we won't name you:
MAN 1 (looking at a Son Sann Party sign): "Oh, maybe Son Sann will not win any
more seats. I don't know who will win the election, but Son Sann no, Ung Huot no,
Toan Chay no."
MAN 2: "Yes, but Hun Sen has very strong support. Maybe no one can compete with
MAN 1: "Oh, we cannot guess beforehand, it depends on the 'tick day'. Because
people in the countryside are uneducated, then it can depend on the media. Unfortunately,
Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy do not have media."
MAN 2: "Oh, Funcinpec is very weak, they could not lead the country in the past."
MAN 1: "You know, I don't know about that because most people in Sisophon still
love the s'dach ... For me, all of my family will vote for the candle [Sam Rainsy]...
It all depends on word of mouth, since the parties have no media... Hun Sen builds
a lot of schools, but he has led the country for a very long time. Although he has
done a lot of good things for the country, still some people do not like him. The
people are forced by the CPP to give thumbprints and things... the roads are still
not good, there is corruption, and robbery."
MAN 2: "You know, Son Sann is too old now, he shakes like this." (shakes
as a demonstration)
MAN 1: "No, but his son Son Soubert is working instead of him now. He's the
deputy of the National Assembly, he's intelligent, with a big salary, and he's single."
MAN 2: "No, he's married. He has a French wife in France and a rich family."
MAN 1: "The BLDP has split so many times, Ieng Mouly, Thach Reng. And then Ung
Huot has one new party."
ALL: (laughing) "Yes, the 'people sitting and crying' party! (a play on the
similarity between Ung Huot's party name, Reastr Niyum, and a similar Khmer phrase,
reastr angkuy yom, meaning 'people sit and cry'.)
MAN 3: "Oh, there are many parties. For people in the countryside they do not
know, they cannot remember the name because most of them cannot read. It confuses
them, all the logos. I think that any political party that has a simple logo, easy
to remember, maybe they will get somewhere."
(General discussion about logos they know CPP's devara, Funcinpec's crest and Sam
MAN 2: "I heard one party had a palm tree logo. I think maybe people in the
countryside will vote for this party because it is easy for them to recognize. Palm
trees are around their houses in their rice fields, you open your eyes and see it
all the time, so maybe this party will have some seats in the National Assembly?"
MAN 1: "Oh, people should consider about the ballot, one ballot is very valuable.
Winning or losing depends on one ballot. If I do not go to vote, and the party that
I love has the same number of ballots as another party, we will not win. But if I
vote for my party with one more ballot, my party will win. I registered already,
early. I would never miss this chance, even if I were busy... You know, my mother
and sisters were attacked by robbers and my mother was killed. It was her seven-day
funeral ceremony, it was a very important day that I should not have missed, but
I still spent some time to go to get my voter ID."
MAN 2: "Oh, it was so difficult to get the ID, the crowd, and I had been waiting
for a long time in the line, but I was afraid the center would close and I might
have to go to another one far away. So I bought the guard some cigarettes to get
in the gate."
MAN 4: "Yes, it was difficult some places, but I got mine too."
MAN 1: "It's easy for the CPP to convince the uneducated people in the country
to vote for them with gifts. I feel sorry for these people, it is like they are in
a well, so they do not know how large the sky is... And for the other parties, oh,
Funcinpec is in bad shape. They lost the TV, the radio, in the dispute between each
other, and now Funcinpec is almost eliminated... There has been CPP propaganda for
many years, through gifts, TV, they use the position of government to make propaganda
for their own party."
MAN 2: "But in the area near my village, the gifts were just given to only to
their relatives, I mean the local village and commune authority gave to their relatives,
not following the order of CPP high-ranking officials."
MAN 1: "Oh yeah, in my area too, you know, sometimes there were names on the
list but the person had died already."
MAN 2: "Perhaps Hun Sen is good but the a chaok a chem [rank and file] under
him cheat people."