Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen rejects democracy index’s ‘authoritarian’ label

Hun Sen rejects democracy index’s ‘authoritarian’ label

Security officials stand guard at the Supreme Court in November ahead of a ruling that dissolved the country’s main opposition party. The dissolution pushed Cambodia into an ‘authoritarian’ regime, according to the Democracy Index 2017.
Security officials stand guard at the Supreme Court in November ahead of a ruling that dissolved the country’s main opposition party. The dissolution pushed Cambodia into an ‘authoritarian’ regime, according to the Democracy Index 2017. Pha Lina

Hun Sen rejects democracy index’s ‘authoritarian’ label

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday took a swipe at a recent democracy report that labelled his regime “authoritarian”, before declaring no one is capable of “toppling Hun Sen besides Hun Sen”.

The premier, speaking at an engineering graduation ceremony, criticised the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index 2017, which downgraded Cambodia from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian” one, and ranked it at 124 out of 167 countries.

“Today, I see it is published that Cambodia is an authoritarian regime. Their group of writers is only five people,” he said, adding that they made their evaluations on preconceived agendas. He said it was ludicrous that countries that drop bombs on other nations were deemed more democratic than Cambodia.

“I have stood firmly since the age of 25 to lead a resistance movement until now, and it’s still continued in its strength,” he said. “There’s no one toppling Hun Sen besides Hun Sen.”

The irony was not lost on ex-opposition deputy Mu Sochua, who said the statement proved the point made in the report.

“The Great Leader is speaking but he forgot he lost most of his audience,” she said.

The EIU boasts more than 100 expert analysts and economists. One of them, EIU lead analyst Miguel Chanco, said at least 10 were “assessing the state of democracy in Asia alone”, and there were countless others globally.

“We employ the same rigorous criteria to gauge the health of democracy in Norway, Sweden and Denmark as we do with the likes of Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam,” he said in an email.

“The major events of the past twelve months – the controversial amendments made to the Law on Political Parties, the arrest of Kem Sokha and the dissolution of the CNRP, and the attacks on broadcast and print media (to name a few) – resulted in a significant deterioration in Cambodia’s score.”

“That the prime minister lashed out strongly against our latest assessment highlights an underlying insecurity about the true state of Cambodian democracy. Let’s just say he isn’t the first strongman to question the credibility of an independent – and critical – piece of study.”

Former Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Ou Chanrath said it was not new for the government to claim an international report was “biased towards the opposition”. “This government says it is not authoritarian, but it is on the edge,” he said.

“If he is open to real democracy and a proper opposition who has the ability to compete, there will be change.” Lee Morgenbesser, a researcher on authoritarian regimes in Southeast Asia at Australia’s Griffith University, said “Hun Sen’s latest rhetoric flurry actually highlights the recent errors of his rule”.

“This a stunning statement from Hun Sen; a self-inflicted wound that undermines much of the recent propaganda pushed by the regime,” he said in an email.

“Firstly, it confirms that elections in Cambodia are not (and never have been) an event designed to be expression of popular consent,” he said, adding that if citizens cannot vote out the ruling party, then Cambodia could not qualify as a democracy.

“Secondly, it confirms that the accusation against the CNRP of trying to foment a coloured revolution is pure fiction. If the opposition cannot oust Hun Sen via mass protests (i.e., “topple him”), then the various criminal charges against it are merely a pretext for repression.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The