Prime Minister Hun Sen warned voters participating in the upcoming national elections in July that if they fail to keep his Cambodian People’s Party in power, he will cancel planned development projects.
Speaking to approximately 4,000 students, villagers and Buddhist monks at the groundbreaking ceremony for a road-widening project on National Road 6A in Kampong Cham province, he also said that a loss could put at risk even the tools and supplies that the CPP contributes to the populace.
In particular, he placed several ongoing bridge projects in Stung Treng and Koh Kong provinces as well as the capital’s Chroy Changva II bridge on the post-election chopping block.
“I am sure that if people no longer need me … I have no reason to help you [people] in the future, but I believe that people will not give up existing achievement within their hands as the opposition party has never done anything for people,” he said.
Son Chhay, an opposition lawmaker speaking on behalf of the newly formed Cambodia National Rescue Party, called the comments in the speech a scare tactic intended to garner more votes.
He added that he had never heard of a single government that froze development projects in response to a shift in power.
“In general, there is no country in the world that cancels its existing government projects if it loses in an election, and the message made by premiere just intimidates voters,” Chhay said.
If the Cambodia National Rescue Party were to take control, he said officials would take a look at existing projects to ensure all of them are being carried out transparently.
Lao Mong Hay, an independence political analyst, agreed with Chhay, and said that a change in leadership would probably not result in a mass cancellation of construction work.
“This is a threat and intimidation. It looks too stupid to cancel the existing national development project [when you lose in an election],” Mong Hay said.
Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor the Committee for Fair and Free Elections in Cambodia, said it was not unexpected in the run-up to an election for parties to start pushing their political platforms and advertising their achievements.