The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has postponed the 69th commemoration of its founding and will instead use the opportunity to mobilise Covid-19 efforts, party president and Prime Minister Hun Sen posted on Facebook on Sunday.
Hun Sen wrote on Facebook that since 1979, 41 years after Cambodia’s liberation from the Khmer Rouge, the party, founded in 1951, has faced countless obstacles and achieved great historical results for peace, national unity and territorial integrity.
He said the CPP celebrated its anniversary every year to remember the fighters and patriots.
“But this year, due to the situation caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, the central committee decided to suspend celebrations to mobilise efforts to resolve the consequences of Covid-19,” he said.
Hun Sen also said on his Facebook page that since the creation of the CPP, the party has been standing for the people, connecting with them, overcoming obstacles, making selfless sacrifices for Cambodia’s peace, freedom and democracy, neutrality and social progress.
“Cambodia has transformed from a field of genocide and a battlefield of chronic wars, national breakdowns and ashes to a land of peace, unity, freedom, democracy, rule of law, and development in all fields,” he said.
The CPP also inaugurated its new $30 million, five-storey headquarters on Sunday, which raised a few eyebrows for its grandeur and cost. Also, not everyone is happy with the completion of the $30 million headquarters which coincides with the party’s anniversary.
Hun Sen has said the CPP will be around for a long time and the headquarters is a reflection of the 50-to-100 year plan that includes infrastructure and human resources training for long-term leadership.
But Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said the CPP’s massive buildings represent the party’s wealth, not that of the country.
He said it has now reached a stage where the party is rich and that kind of money should be spent to improve buildings and health centres in communes to meet the people’s needs. Chanroeun said it can’t be a situation where the rich keep getting richer and the poor, poorer.
Social analyst Meas Nee said: “There is a lot of discussion and some foreign diplomats say that in a democratic country, there is no display of large [party] buildings. This is seen only in China and North Korea, where the party has built large buildings to show off.”
International Relations Institute director-general Kin Phea said the decision to suspend the anniversary was the right thing to do in terms of preventing the spread of Covid-19 and conserving resources. As for the CPP’s headquarters, he said it was common for a party to have a long-term vision of leadership.
“The criticism of the construction of the headquarters in comparison to state buildings is not correct because it was built from the party’s funds, not the state budget,” he stressed.