In a stump speech in Siem Reap on Saturday, opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha admonished supporters not to “argue” with the Cambodian People’s Party, while simultaneously taking the opportunity to throw a few jabs at the ruling party himself.
Echoing opposition claims that their party won the popular vote in the contested national elections in 2013, Sokha said that while the CPP may hold power officially speaking, the Cambodia National Rescue Party was the party of the people.
“Enter any restaurant, it’s the National Rescue Party. Enter any hotel, it’s [the CNRP]. Walk by any market, it’s also [the CNRP],” he said. “Now, in the National Assembly, the majority vote is the ruling party. But outside the parliament, the majority vote is National Rescue.”
Sokha went on tell supporters to be more sparing in their criticism of the CPP. The message came hot on the heels of a party directive telling members to avoid antagonistic rhetoric as the party attempts to repair its relationship with the CPP.
“We don’t need to tell citizens that this one logged, or that one sold land. Citizens already know who logged and who sold land. We do not need say this one is corrupt, that one is corrupt. Citizens already know who is corrupt,” Sokha said.
“Brothers and sisters don’t need to say it anymore. So for our strategy, do not respond, do not argue; take time to prepare ourselves to lead [the] country in the next term.”
Seeming to momentarily forget his own advice, Sokha then went on to praise supporters for their bravery in standing up to the “dictatorial” government.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan, however, called the remarks “normal”, accusing the opposition and Sokha specifically of repeatedly failing to keep their word.