Ruling Cambodian People’s Party working groups are being handed a list of 10 diktats from Prime Minister Hun Sen, bringing the party’s recent vows to increase surveillance and restrict dissent to the local level.
To a group of CPP faithful in Kampong Thom’s Banteay Stoung commune, Som Sun, head of the commune working group, recited the premier’s 10 key points on Saturday.
The points ranged from “implementing strategies based on the good deeds of the official party . . . to win the election”, to “continuing to grow the grassroots movement gradually and actively”.
Point six reads: “[We] must unite together to take action to prevent tricks that attempt to block democracy and the election process in Cambodia”, and point seven talks of “widely disseminating” the new political program.
The CPP’s five-year plan, obtained by The Post last week, commits to heightening surveillance, shutting out any opposition “force” and preventing the spread of information that “twists the truth”.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday said the new goals did not restrict civil liberties. “There is no tightening of freedom . . . It is only tightening for the illegal, naughty group, and they do not dare to do anything because when they stand up, they will be [jailed],” he said.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party was forcibly dissolved in November last year after its president, Kem Sokha, was arrested for “treason”. In response, former officials in self-imposed exile formed the Cambodia National Rescue Movement, which the CPP has labelled a “terrorist” group that could “become ISIS”, despite its professed commitment to nonviolence.
Former CNRP Deputy President and CNRM co-founder Mu Sochua said the new CPP edicts were heavy-handed.
“It’s counter productive as people will be pushed to find other options such as responding to CNRM calls,” she said in a message. “It’s the passive resistance effect.”
Banteay Stoung Commune Police Chief Khiev Khuoth said the CPP working group had instructed him and other local security forces to recruit village security guards to up the ante on surveillance.
“After the CNRP’s commune councillors did not join with us, [the security guards] also keep their eyes on them to see where they go and what they do and what they talk about, and we place our network to track them down . . . so that we can report it to the senior leaders,” he said, referring to district and provincial CPP working groups.
“We have to pay high attention,” he said, “to observe to see if any people or groups are creating any movement.”
Additional reporting by Erin Handley