Self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy late on Wednesday night likened the Cambodian People’s Party-led government’s unease with a strong union movement to Soviet fears of the non-violent rise of the Polish trade union Solidarnosc, or Solidarity, which unseated a repressive Soviet-backed regime in the late 1980s.
Writing on his Facebook page, Rainsy said the government’s passing of the trade union law and violent backlash at protesters on Monday were emblematic of the current regime’s fear of a worker’s movement “fighting for freedom”.
“Because they are afraid that the workers’ movement fighting for social justice would bring down their authoritarian regime, similar to what happened in Poland in 1990,” Rainsy’s post read.
Solidarity, formed in 1980, was the first non-communist-controlled union in Poland, and despite close to a decade of political repression, was able to lead a coalition government in 1989.
Sok Eysan, spokesman for the CPP, said the ruling party was not afraid of workers demonstrating and reiterated the government’s view that the draft union law would serve the interests of workers, employers and unions.
“It is not the same as [Rainsy’s] idea is suggesting,” he added.