Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday that the people could rebel to overthrow him if he did not follow through on his promises. However, he said that would be unnecessary as he would voluntarily step down if such was the case.
Speaking in Kampong Chhnang province to more than 24,000 garment workers from five different factories, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) leader said: “I would like to confirm to you here, and to all workers across the country, if I do not implement [what I promise], please all of you stand up against me in a rebellion to overthrow Hun Sen – I am serious, I am not kidding.”
In highlighting his party’s ability to follow through on its promises, he went on to say: “The promises of the ruling party that leads the government are not the same as promises from other [opposition] political parties. [The CPP carries out] detailed studies before announcing any policies.
“The party that is not in government can promise to do this and that, [but] they can only promise. If the ruling party promises to do something, we have to do it."
“All of you can be ready to overthrow me, [but] I will step down for another to replace me [if I can’t fulfil my promises] or let a different party [run the government] instead.
“[We will] implement everything we say before the election. If the ruling party promises something, it will happen.”
The prime minister then defended his party’s record by turning his attention to accusations that his campaign pledges were mere promises to garner votes and with no intention of being implemented.
Hun Sen, who has been prime minister for 33 years, pointed to his record of following through on his promises and assured the people that his government will continue to implement its policies and promises.
They included providing financial help for female garment workers who gave birth, with the poorest receiving up to a total of 744,000 riel ($186), and free hospital care for workers in both the formal and informal sectors.
“Some people have said that my ‘populist’ policies are only brought out at election time, and after the election, they will be not implemented."
“Policies such as the 400,000 riel [$100] financial help for female garment workers who give birth and the free medical treatment for all workers. These policies were only outlined in the election period and after the election, they would not be implemented, some people say,” Hun Sen said.
He also reiterated that he would remain in power for at least 10 more years to ensure his promises are kept.
“I assure all of you that what has been implemented and is being implemented will continue until my duties end in the next 10 years . . . or at least 10 more years,” he said.
Yang Saing Koma, the prime ministerial candidate for the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP), said he welcomed the prime minister’s speech but urged politicians to speak truthfully.
“We want all politicians to take responsibility for their promises. How many of their promises are believable?” I welcome [Hun Sen’s] speech. It is the same thing as the GDP. I also have clear promises,” he said.
Political analyst Meas Nee said Hun Sen had not met all his previous promises, such as vowing to prevent deforestation and pledging to crack down on dangerous double-trailer articulated trucks that contravene road safety laws.
“His promise to protect our forests, which is remembered well by Cambodians, and the promise to ban trucks that are too long and not up to standard … after an initial clampdown, we are again seeing many of these trucks on the road,” he said.
However, he said that while politicians can make promises they intend to keep, it was often lower officials who failed to implement them.
“Promises are often made but turn out to be unmet. I don’t know whether it is Samdech’s [Hun Sen’s] words that are not effective or if there are other reasons for policy failure,” he said.