Non-government organisations hosted a freewheeling forum yesterday in which opposition political parties held forth on a handful of topics critical to voters ahead of the June 3 commune elections.
The CPP did not deign to take part, but a member of one of the monitoring groups said this was fairly common.
Nevertheless, about 200 political activists, representatives of evictees and community leaders flocked to the event, at Phnom Penh’s Imperial Garden Village and Hotel.
Each party representative, none of whom are running for office, laid out positions on themes like land rights and natural resources management.
Koul Panha, of election monitor Comfrel, an NGO that took part, said the question-and-answer period was spirited.
“People feel a little bit frustrated,” he said.
While parties differed here and there, all of them criticised the CPP for provoking recent violent land evictions.
“Land belongs to the villagers, and villagers have been imprisoned for protesting against the government to protect their land,” Thach Sitha, a Sam Rainsy Party representative, said.
Human Rights Party representative Ou Chanrith explained that the HRP wanted to cancel all the 99-year contracts for economic land concessions that affect residents and the environment, and issue land certificates to residents to protect the safety of villagers’ property.
Som Mony, 60, from Siem Reap province, said he would vote for any party that was against evictions.
Senior CPP legislator Cheam Yeap said such critiques were normal during campaigns, and “the voters will decide which political party is on the right track.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at firstname.lastname@example.org