Prime Minister Hun Manet, in a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Stung Tatai Leu Dam construction project in Koh Kong province’s Thma Bang district, reiterated the government’s commitment to “genuine” development. Rejecting opposition claims of demagogic politics, he asserted a responsible approach towards people’s livelihood and national economic growth. 

Addressing accusations by foreign media, the premier highlighted tangible outcomes, challenging the perception that government actions are mere symbolism, devoid of substantive results.

“I pose the question to those present: is the electricity in question artificial or genuine? Are they merely setting up for filming purposes? Evidently, the public has access to functional electricity. In the presence of a power supply, I observed individuals using smartphones. If there’s no electricity, how do they manage to charge their smartphones?” he asked rhetorically.

He said that electricity reaches approximately 98 per cent of individuals residing in villages, districts and across the nation, ensuring widespread accessibility. He also stated that electricity distribution extends beyond urban centres and towns, encompassing all provinces and villages.

Manet stated his readiness to be labelled a leader with a dictatorial stance, provided it ensures peace, development and a dignified standard of living for the population, rather than steering the nation towards conflict.

“Some individuals suggest observing a period of mourning for the first 100 days of the government. I urge them to reflect on this individually. The public has recently returned from celebrating the Water Festival, so any contemplation of mourning should be a personal endeavour,” he said.

The premier said the tangible fruits of development stem from the dividends of peace and the government’s Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I, which prioritises people, roads, water, electricity and technology.

The government is dedicated to advancing the nation through three key responsibilities: enhancing the livelihoods of the populace, propelling economic progress and considering the broader impact on localities, people, animals and Cambodia’s global role in addressing environmental concerns, particularly against climate change.

Reiterating the nation’s transformation from a war-torn state to one of peace, stability and development over the past four decades, Manet highlighted Cambodia’s aspirations to become an upper-middle-income nation by 2030 and a high-income one by 2050.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, pointed out the government accomplishments, including expressways, bridges, hydroelectric dams and rural water access.

“When viewed negatively, even positive actions are perceived as demagoguery. However, the government has translated intentions into tangible outcomes, actively utilised by the public. Admittedly, certain developmental initiatives may impact a limited section of the population, but their overarching purpose aligns with the collective welfare,” he said.

Pa Chanroeun, president of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, remarked that criticism is inherent in a democratic society.

“In many societies, politicians frequently make promises, yet often fall silent, proving ineffectual with minimal results or outcomes. The new government mandate marks a fresh chapter in Cambodian politics. The key to democracy lies in politicians, both from the ruling party and opposition, diminishing political rhetoric and directing attention towards policy formulation and practical implementation,” he said.