Prime Minister Hun Sen said the June 5 commune council election outcome demonstrated a strong base of support for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) in the lead-up to the 2023 national election, pledging that his party will always stay true to the path of liberal democracy and the rule of law.
Hun Sen made the remark in a speech marking the 71st anniversary of the founding of the CPP, which took place in 1951 under the party’s former name of Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party. The commemoration event was held at the CPP’s headquarters in the capital’s Chamkarmon district on June 28.
The CPP, he said, once again demonstrated an enduring popularity among the electorate by winning 9,376 out of 11,622 commune council seats across all 1,652 communes in the capital and the 24 provinces, though it did face some competition from the Candlelight Party, which had a strong showing of support at the polls despite it being their first time on the ballot.
Hun Sen also said the victory destroyed the “schemes and plots” hatched by “extremist opposition groups” who have “chosen to go down a path that leads them astray in a direction opposite to that of the will and the interests of the people”.
He thanked CPP members for the hard work they did winning the hearts of the people and securing their support well in advance of election day.
“In response to the trust placed in us by many of our fellow citizens, the CPP is determined to do our best to successfully implement the commune development policy for 2022-2027 in order to improve every aspect of life there and to further enhance the livelihoods of the people so that they may live in harmony in their villages, communities and throughout our whole society,” he said.
Hun Sen said that in hindsight, looking back over the past 43 years, what the CPP has achieved was accomplished due to the integrity of the party and the devoted support of the people, which he said was evidence that maintaining national unity was paramount to the nation’s continued success.
“Although there have been some dark chapters in the history of the party and we’ve had to surmount many obstacles and the relentless attempts by our foes to topple our party from power, the CPP is still standing strong and enjoying a huge level of support from the people and from friends near and far who understand our role in preventing the recurrence of the genocidal regime and in restoring and rebuilding the nation so that we may have the strength to move past those difficult days and march forward into the future,” he said.
The prime minister also warned the public against complacency, saying that if they were to forget the lessons learned from the Kingdom’s past hardships, they may find the country wandering down that same dark path again.
He called on all CPP members to diligently fulfill their duties and to uphold the party’s principles as well as the reform principles advocated by his government in order to keep the party’s base of support strong and win favour with all Cambodian people.
Hun Sen said that his party will “steadfastly” adhere to the principle of national unity under the umbrella of the Constitution and the monarchy to protect Cambodia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and to continue pushing for socio-economic development to create a prosperous, harmonious and loving society on par with the most civilised nations in the region and the world.
“The Cambodian People’s Party will always stay true to the path of liberal democracy, pluralism and the rule of law within the context of Cambodian society, and we will always fully respond to the sacred aspirations of the Cambodian people.
“At the same time, the party will thwart all actions – whatever their source may be – that attempt to push Cambodia off this path or to suppress Cambodia’s sovereignty,” he said.
The CPP, he said, will continue to strengthen its sincere cooperation with other political parties, civil society organisations and stakeholders with sincerity and genuine goodwill in order to maintain a positive, peaceful and sustainable political environment, especially as the Kingdom heads towards the national election in 2023.
The party will also work to increase the trust and confidence of investors – both domestic and foreign – in order to draw more capital here to promote socio-economic development and improve people’s livelihood, Hun Sen said.
The premier said he expected that economic growth this year and next year will be positive once again thanks to the effective measures taken against Covid-19 when the situation was at its worst. He noted that Covid-19 is still circulating so the pandemic has not truly ended, calling on the public to get vaccinated with booster shots whenever their turns come.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said it was de rigueur for political parties like the CPP to praise their own achievements when holding party events, particularly on an occasion like an anniversary celebration.
“The achievements are mentioned to remind party members about them so that they in turn can remind the public on an informed basis when talking with friends and family,” he said. “So they are being given talking points in a sense, but it can also serve to increase the level of pride and fealty to the party among the rank-and-file membership.”
Kim Eng praised the prime minister’s public commitment to working with other political parties and with civil society groups given some of the past controversies in the Kingdom.
“It is also encouraging to hear an express endorsement of liberal multi-party democracy and the rule of law straight from the prime minister himself,” he said, in contrast to the sort of bellicose triumphalism that some parties engage in when they win an election in a landslide like this one.
Municipal deputy governor Koeut Chhe – who also serves as the CCP vice-president for the capital – said that now and in the future the CPP will continue to promote the peaceful development of the nation through the wisdom of its policies, which have been proven correct again and again.
“We will unconditionally and without exception pursue the implementation of all policies and instructions approved by our party leaders, which will undoubtedly lead to new accomplishments and achievements by the CPP on behalf of the nation and the people,” Chhe said.