AROUND 5,000 supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) turned out at the party’s headquarters on Monday for a celebration marking the 59th anniversary of its founding.
Balloons were released and traditional dances performed before party president Chea Sim delivered a speech praising what he described as a long history of resisting colonialism and promoting peace in Cambodia.
“We celebrate this event in the spirit to offer deepest respect and gratitude to patriots of all generations, including a great number of cadres and soldiers who had fought with braveness and sacrificed their lives in all stages for the nation,” Chea Sim said.
The party traces its origins to the formation of the communist Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party in June 1951, four months after the Indochinese Communist Party was dissolved and replaced by parties for the Vietnamese, Khmer and Lao communist movements.
Chea Sim said the CPP deserved credit for triumphs over French colonialism as well as attempts by the United States to draw Cambodia into the war in neighbouring Vietnam.
“For the past 59 years, the CPP adheres strictly to its nature of being a party that is of the people, and for the people,” he added.
The current iteration of the party – known until 1991 as the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea – was not formed until 1981, after the Vietnamese-backed overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime two years earlier.
Call to arms
Chea Sim also encouraged the party’s officials to continue strengthening the CPP’s “internal solidarity and unity” and to “attain further successes in the construction and defence of the motherland within the spirit of self-reliance”.
“The CPP earnestly supports the Royal Government’s policies and measures in continuing to fight against corruption, forestry and fisheries offences, putting a stop to anarchic grabbing of state land, while maintaining sustainable environment and natural resources exploitation with conscience and responsibility,” he said.
But Chea Poch, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, said Monday that issues such as land grabbing, illegal logging and corruption have been widespread across the country during the CPP’s rule.
“I think that the CPP’s political programmes are good on paper, but there is a lack of real political will to curb hot issues such as corruption, land grabbing and illegal logging,” he said. “There are many poor people that come out to protest almost every day about their farmland being grabbed by powerful individuals from the ruling CPP and the rich.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen did not attend Monday’s ceremony because of ill health, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said.