A day after Malaysia’s ruling coalition made its worst-ever showing at an election, Prime Minister Hun Sen commended both Cambodia’s and that country’s incumbent governments for their ability to guarantee stability.
“The focus of the ruling parties is the same: to keep the peace, stability and development according to the way it already existed,” he said during a speech at the inauguration for a road construction project in Kampong Speu.
“In [Malaysia], the opposition party demands to have change. This topic is the same as the topic in Khmer country too, claims of corruption and foreigners coming to vote,” said Hun Sen.
Though the ruling coalition won, it lost the popular vote, underlining opposition complaints that the electoral system is stacked against it.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Alliance won 89 seats, up seven from 2008 but still not enough to unseat one of the world’s longest-serving governments. Anwar has called for a rally tomorrow.
The opposition, explained Hun Sen, “always” accuse their election bodies of bias when, in actuality, there is little to suggest that was the case.
In Cambodia, he said, both the opposition and NGOs “every day only insult the National Election Committee. If you cannot defeat, kick the arbitrator. Have [you] looked into the law?”
The Cambodian National Rescue Party has yet to register, though the period closes on May 13, and party heads have remained vague about their intentions, saying they are currently focused on calling attention to the NEC’s failings.
Addressing that claim, the prime minister called it a “story” and said the truth is that the party is dealing with internal problems.
“Don’t register, go ahead!” he said, noting that the five parties that had already registered would be happy to tap into their voter base.
CNRP vice-president Kem Sokha said there could be little doubt of the NEC’s biases following Hun Sen’s speech.
“This proves that Mr Prime Minister and the NEC are staying together. The NEC is biased toward him; it’s necessary for him to defend the NEC. If it didn’t exist, he would lose the election,” said Sokha, who denied that the delay in registering had anything to do with party issues.
“We have no problem whatsoever,” he said. “It is shameful that he could be duped so easily by whoever is reporting to him.”
As for the Malaysia comparison, Sokha said the pair were in complete agreement.
“Malaysia is now rebelling. Mr Prime Minister must want to have this rebellion, if he does not want to reform the election process.”
Additional reporting by Reuters