Ruling party lawmaker Pen Panha gave a lecture yesterday at the Royal School of Administration to students on the opposition’s alleged attempt at “colour revolution” – an allegation used to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party in November, with virtually no evidence presented to the public to support it.
Speaking at the Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Centre, Panha accused the CNRP of having “arranged a terrible trick, which was the movement and systematic strategy aiming to create colour revolution in Cambodia”.
The Prey Veng lawmaker added that the attempted revolution was “facilitated by the biased people living abroad” in an attempt to topple the government.
In November, the Supreme Court justified its decision to dissolve the party with similar reasoning, and party president Kem Sokha is awaiting trial on “treason” charges after his arrest in September. The only piece of evidence put forward against him is a years-old video in which he discusses getting advice from the United States to build a political platform.
“Toppling the legal government contrasts with the Constitution, democratic principles, rule of law and the people’s will,” Panha told university students. “Fortunately, it has been intercepted in time through firm and effective measures.”
However, many commentators have slammed the decision to dissolve the CNRP for violating those exact principles. The Constitution guarantees multi-party democracy, but without the CNRP there appears to be no viable contender to the ruling party in this year’s elections.
The CNRP won 44 percent of the popular vote in the last national elections, as well as 30 percent of commune seats last June. All of the party’s official positions have since been swallowed up by the CPP, or redistributed to minor parties that won less than 5 percent of the vote combined.
Panha is the head of the National Assembly’s Commission on Legislation and Justice, which approved the CNRP’s seat redistribution before it was voted on in the assembly.
He added that following the dissolution of the CNRP and the banning of 118 of its members from politics for five years, the “colour revolution” has been vanquished.
“It prevented the dangerous extremism from escalating in the future with the opposition group at its core, which would ruin the peace, safety, national unity and social and economic development,” he said.
Speaking to The Post afterwards, students in the audience, many of whom are training to become public officials, seemed receptive.
“We have learned a lot from him about ‘colour revolution’,” said a student named Samnang, adding that the lecture was “interesting”.
Samnang said senior government officials often lecture the students about Cambodian politics, noting that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s chief bodyguard Hing Bun Heang recently gave a lecture about the premier’s “struggle for peace”.
“He has sacrificed everything to build Cambodia,” Samnang said.