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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - One-party state cannot bring about democracy

One-party state cannot bring about democracy

Dear Editor,

The Phnom Penh Post article published December 11, 2008, titled  "Kingdom at crossroads as CPP extends control over government" is a good food for thought for all of us who are direct or indirect actors in the building of democracy in Cambodia.

We can have endless debates about what type of democracy Cambodia should enjoy or what is the path to democracy. But we cannot accept that a one-party state may be the foundation Cambodia needs for genuine democratic development, because the fundamental element of democracy is the existence of diversified ideas, voices and choices. A one-party state eliminates the environment for democracy to be rooted and to grow. The tight control of people's lives at the village level, and the culture of merits rather than rights for development and the "step-by-step" approach are all part of the carefully crafted democracy that the rulers will allow Cambodia to have.

The slow pace of reforms is not because of the lack of human resources, but it is rather a well-crafted pace to extend the power of the rulers. Corruption provides the means to control the power base and to even expand it. Stability comes at a high price for the poor, for the voiceless, for the human rights defenders and the activists.

Debates in parliament are controlled with rules and procedures that shut off the opposition. Mechanisms for checks and balances to control corruption, rule of law and reforms are weak, while donors continue to accept the same promises made.   

How much longer will we let the elephants weep?

Mu Sochua, MP

Sam Rainsy Party

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