A CPP Central Committee letter leaked on Facebook and local media yesterday shows the party ordering top officials across the country to release public statements supporting Hun Sen’s resolution of the recent border dispute with Laos.
The classified letter, signed on Saturday by Cambodian People’s Party Vice President Say Chhum, called on “directors of provincial and municipal party committees to persuade government officials, armed forces, teachers, monks, business people, farmers, students and civil society organisations to submit a petition supporting the statement of Samdech [Hun Sen] . . . about Cambodia’s border issue”.
A similar outpouring of support came from all corners of the country’s government institutions following the widely criticised arrest of Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha on charges of “treason”. The letters and statements from ministries, local governments, armed forces, student groups and pro-government NGOs were published on government mouthpiece Fresh News.
Sok Eysan, spokesman for the CPP, confirmed the letter was authentic yesterday, and defended it as a normal part of political party hierarchy.
“It is the party’s discipline; it means that the party has internal unity from top to bottom. If the leader says that, the subordinate repeats that. Therefore, for this case, they need to agree with each other in both political stance and action,” Eysan said.
“It is a campaign to attract the public’s support, and to have the people see that CPP is strong and has unity and solidarity,” he added, characterising the CNRP as disorganised by comparison.
Mao Monivann, a CNRP lawmaker, claimed the strategy was similar to those employed by the Khmer Rouge.
“We have experienced this during Khmer Rouge regime. We used to say that the superior orders that, [then] the inferior will do that,” he said.
Monivann said the opposition did not make a habit of ordering people to support its leader’s positions, but instead followed the will of the people.
But political analyst Meas Nee suggested the opposition could take a page from the CPP’s politicking playbook.
“It is a strategic war for gaining the support from the people nationwide,” he said, noting that the opposition might use a similar tactic to rally support for the release of Kem Sokha.