Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The three big fish swallow all the minnows

The three big fish swallow all the minnows

The three big fish swallow all the minnows

The ink has not yet faded from their fingers, but the leaders of the nation's 19

small political parties are taking stock of the time, effort and money they put into

the July 27 national election. The small parties, fighting for 1 or 2 percent of

the vote, were swallowed up by the big three.

"The big fish still eats the small fish in Cambodia," said Nhoung Seab,

leader of the Rice Party.

One of the best-funded and most prestigious was the Norodom Chakrapong Khmer Spirit

Party. To its founder's surprise, the party fared worse than most of the small parties.

Prince Norodom Chakrapong said he was shocked that his party failed to get even 2

percent of the vote. He claimed to have 200,000 supporters in Kampong Cham province

alone, but polled only a few thousand votes.

"How can we get less than four or five thousand votes? How can they disappear?"

he asked.

The answer may be found in what the leader of the Cambodia Development Party, Mao

Bora, discovered. In an interview shortly after the opening of the campaign period

on June 26, Bora said he hoped to win 10 seats in the National Assembly because he

knew "a lot of people in the provinces".

While all the people Bora knows in the provinces may have voted for the CDP, it is

unlikely that number was large enough to make a dent in the polls. But Bora now doubts

that even his 4,000 members in Kampot and Kampong Cham voted for his party.

"I thought I had a lot of supporters. It turns out I didn't," he said glumly.

"They may say they support me to my face, but I cannot know their hearts."

Each of the small parties spent large sums of money. In most cases it came directly

out of party leaders' pockets. Nhoung Seab spent more than $10,000 of his own cash

for the Rice Party's campaign, while Bora shelled out more than $10,000. Chakrapong

was rumored to have spent around $2 million.

Ty Chhin, president of the Khmer Children's Party, was not pleased with the result

that his $1,335 yielded, but felt that it was for the greater good.

"I feel regret for spending the money, especially for the people who donated

money," he said. "But for the sake of democracy, it was worth it."

While most parties claimed they suffered from the intimidatory or vote-buying tactics

of the three big parties, Hang Dara of the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, said

the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) had worked in a more subtle way.

"I want the ballots produced in the United States next time," he said.

"The CPP put a special chemical into the ink so that when a voter checked the

Hang Dara box, the mark went into the CPP box."

Hang Dara said that he reported the chemical to the NEC, but had received no response.

He said he would take his claim to the Supreme Council of Magistracy if the NEC did

not investigate.

None of the parties had any doubt that they would continue in the next general and

commune elections. But not all will participate in next year's Senate elections.

"I don't know about the 2004 Senate elections. I don't have much money left,"

said CDP's Bora.

Nhoung Seab said the Rice Party "will continue forever".

Chakrapong said his party would still try to become a political force. He would not

rule out aligning his cash with either Funcinpec or the Sam Rainsy Party in the future.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol

  • Ministry to 'seek justice' for officials indicted in US for 'monkey smuggling'

    The Cambodian government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said they will make the “utmost effort” to seek justice for a Cambodian official arrested in John F Kennedy International Airport in New York for allegedly conspiring to smuggle crab-eating macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis)