Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New deadlock but old tactics, analysts say

New deadlock but old tactics, analysts say

New deadlock but old tactics, analysts say

Ahead of today’s hearing on Cambodia’s record at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, opposition figures and analysts said the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has reverted to familiar tactics of post-election suppression.

Analysts yesterday said that the breaking up of Cambodia National Rescue Party-led protests at Freedom Park and a crackdown on garment workers earlier this month echoed the crackdowns following elections in 1998 and 2003.

CNRP spokesman Nhem Ponharith said yesterday he believed that the government’s actions this year hearkened back to these earlier periods of chaos and political instability.

“I think that the recent actions of the CPP have backtracked [the country] to the violent crackdown on the opposition in 1998,” he said.

“We will continue with the public forums. The latest political environment has turned negative and was [a result of] the failure to decide a date for political negotiations. The previous tactic of the CPP was not appropriate for a modern democracy,” he added.

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, said the CPP was employing “Cold War tactics” to defeat the opposition movement by force.

“In 1998, the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations resulted in pressure on Funcinpec to form a coalition government, but now it is different and the tactic no longer works because the CNRP did not demand a coalition government,” he said. “The CPP … has had to change tactics.”

Chea Vannath, an independent political and social analyst, said yesterday that the shift from last year’s easing of freedoms after the election was a sign that the ruling party still lacked political maturity.

“What I observe is that there is a lack of maturity in terms of how to implement the democratic process,” she said.

“For any problems, the CPP is still quite keen to use force rather than help to convince people, to lobby. It likes using violence to intimidate protesters more. It’s the same thing as in 1998 and 2003, the same pattern in terms of democratic processes.”

Vannath pointed to the subtle change in tactics from 1998 and 2003 and suggested Cambodia was seeing a period of transition. “During 2003 and 1998, the government was very quick to react, while in 2013 the government was more patient,” she said. “It’s just like a period of transition between the military tanks and the security forces in 2014.”

Yesterday, Human Rights Watch called on countries making representations at today’s UN meeting on Cambodia to urge the government to end the cycle of violence and institute lasting reforms.

“Hun Sen’s government violates human rights on a daily basis by violently preventing the opposition, trade unions, activists and others from gathering to demand political change,” Juliette de Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “Countries at the Human Rights Council should condemn this brutal crackdown and insist the Cambodian government engage in serious reforms.”



  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38

    Kak Channthy, frontwoman of The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk near the Sun and Moon Hotel in Phnom

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • American ‘fugitive’ arrested in Cambodia outside of US Embassy

    An American citizen was arrested on request by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, according to Cambodian police. Major General Uk Hei Sela, chief of investigations at the Department of Immigration, identified the man as American Jan Sterling Hagen, and said he was

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and