Prime Minister Hun Sen and the former leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kem Sokha, both issued New Year wishes on Monday, with one analyst saying both messages reflected the reality for each of them as the Kingdom prepared to enter 2019.
“I and my wife would like to extend our wishes to the venerable monkhood, all compatriots both local and abroad and the national forces who are standing by protecting our territory along the borders to have happiness, prosperity, health and success in their jobs and occupations – good luck to all [of you] in the New Year, 2019, which will come this midnight,” he wrote on his Facebook page on Monday.
Hun Sen also encouraged people to visit the newly inaugurated Win-Win Monument on the capital’s Chroy Changvar peninsula and enjoy the music, exhibitions, and products on display.
Sokha, at his house in Phnom Penh after his release on bail under court-imposed supervision, wrote on Facebook to extend his best wishes for the New Year, expressing his hope that all Cambodians would have peace and democratic social development by “beginning a real national reconciliation and not making any Cambodian an enemy”.
“I wish that this New Year opens a new a chapter in history which eradicates two epidemics that are ravaging Cambodian society. The first epidemic is suppression [and] threats, especially of violence, and the second epidemic is hatred, jealousy, and especially the smearing [of opponents], insults and defamation."
“I wish this new chapter in history starts from leaders of all tendencies to become role models by stopping unvirtuous politics, whether by means of threats or malicious denunciation, instead coming back to embrace the 10 royal duties [the dasavidha rajadharma] to pave the way for the people and especially the younger generation,” he said.
He said he wished 2019 would bring happiness, prosperity, justice, harmony and full freedom to all Cambodian people.
But political analyst Lao Mong Hay was of the view that Hun Sen’s New Year message was less “altruistic” than Sokha’s.
He said much of his message was “devoted to mentioning his family and extorting people to appreciate the Win-Win Memorial he has just erected.
The rest of it is simply the standard New Year wishes for peace, prosperity, good health, success and good luck”.
“Kem Sokha’s message was more altruistic and more visionary. It contained his concerns and his wish for peace and prosperity for the Cambodian nation and its people based on democracy, reconciliation with no enmity between Cambodians, and with no political segregation and no slander."
“He urges political leaders to abandon unvirtuous behaviour and to embrace instead the rational 10 royal duties towards the nation called dasavidha rajadharma,” Mong Hay said.
Social analyst Ok Serei Sopheak was of the view that both politicians’ messages reflected the reality for each of them. He said Kem Sokha wanted full freedom by having the treason charges against him dropped.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen is the leader of the country, so he must have spoken like that. However, for Kem Sokha who is still a [charged person], he wishes to have reconciliation for the sake of society."
“He wants restrictions on freedom to be loosened and, to [be blunt], he wanted to be released [from his legal charges]. These are their individual wishes and no one is wrong,” he said.
Sopheak said 2019 would be a good year if the amended Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties gave freedom to all politicians mired in political cases. From this, he said, the social and political atmosphere would return to normal.
He said the New Year’s messages of Hun Sen and Sokha should be combined to make one which had a full meaning.