Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM doles out cash, caution to capital garment workers

PM doles out cash, caution to capital garment workers

Prime Minister Hun Sen hands out white envelopes containing $2.50 to 7NG factory workers in Kandal province yesterday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen hands out white envelopes containing $2.50 to 7NG factory workers in Kandal province yesterday. Facebook

PM doles out cash, caution to capital garment workers

On the same day Cambodia’s highest court dissolved the main opposition party, Prime Minister Hun Sen was busy campaigning at several garment factories, urging some 10,000 workers to vote for his ruling Cambodian People’s Party and doling out cash to more than 700 pregnant women.

During his speech, he reminded workers that he planned to remain in power for at least 10 more years and repeated lavish promises of additional benefits for garment workers beginning in 2018, including free health care, a higher minimum wage and a $100 bonus to mothers for every newborn child.

The premier also warned workers not to let anybody incite them to protest, and told them not to bow their heads to foreigners – an apparent dig at the foreign powers the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was accused of colluding with to topple his government.

“Don’t fall for any incitement and break your rice pot,” he told the workers. “We will not allow big and small gangsters to do protests and threaten workers into not working and joining the protests.”

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said a politician holding a campaign-style rally, asking for votes and giving away money would be considered blatant vote-buying in most countries.

“But as usual in Cambodia, there’s apparently one set of rules for Hun Sen, and another set for everyone else,” he wrote in an email. “Hun Sen is asserting his impunity to do whatever he wants, and operating above the law like a dictator rather than an elected leader.”

Despite the gifts and additional benefits, Hun Sen is “not an advocate of the working poor, he’s only really concerned about remaining in power any way that he can”, Robertson added.

Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Naresuan University in Thailand, said he found it interesting that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was ousted from power on Wednesday “at a time when Hun Sen is using the same tactics Mugabe utilised to also hang on to a decades long parliamentary dictatorship”.

“So the question is: In the process of trying to stay in power, will Hun Sen also run his country into the ground?” he asked in an email. “Will he move Cambodia in the direction of a Mugabe future?”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia-Thailand rail reconnected after 45 years

    A railway reconnecting Cambodia and Thailand was officially inaugurated on Monday following a 45-year hiatus, with the two kingdoms’ prime ministers in attendance at the ceremony. On the occasion, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha travelled together from Thailand’s

  • Thousands attend CNRP-organised pro-democracy vigil in South Korea

    Thousands of supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Saturday gathered in the South Korean city of Gwangju to hold a candlelight demonstration calling for the “liberation” of democracy in Cambodia. Yim Sinorn, a CNRP member in South Korea, said on

  • US Embassy: Chinese trade does not help like the West’s

    The US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday said relations between China and Cambodia did not create jobs or help industry when compared to the trade between the Kingdom and the US. “About 87 per cent of trade [with China] are Chinese imports, which do not

  • New airport study set for 2019

    A feasibility study on the construction of a new airport in the Kingdom will be launched later this year, according to a Ministry of Tourism spokesman on Monday. The plan was approved last week in a meeting held by the Ministry of Economy and Finance