July 29, 2018 was the day that Cambodians exercised their democratic rights and obligations. Overall, the election process was smooth. According to the latest figures from the National Election Committee (NEC), the voter turnout rate was 82.17 per cent or 6.88 million out of 8.38 million eligible voters.
Shortly after the election process was wrapped up, some western countries and local critics jumped into condemning the electoral process and the election results; while some countries issued statements in support of the electoral process and the election results.
From my personal observation, I find both the critics and the proponents of the ruling party have given too much attention toward the international community’s reactions and forgot the ones who truly decided the fate of the country for the next 5 years, and those are the 82.17 per cent of eligible voters who went to cast their ballots at the poll.
Also, since 1998, it’s been like a broken record, every election year, a week after the election day, the same countries never approve and endorse Cambodia’s election results. No matter how well the process was.
Also, the main party that lost the election never concede and accept the results. The party that lost usually brought their matter to the streets to contest the election results which created chaos, instability, and casualties.
So this year it is no different from any other year. The same countries that chose to not endorse past elections issued their statements to condemn this year’s results. Some critics sided with the countries that refused to endorse the results, and they passed harsh judgment and all sort of false accusations on the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). They went on to conclude that democracy in Cambodia is dead. What they forgot to consider is that almost all eligible voters still believe in democracy in Cambodia, and the Cambodian public still have faith in the CPP.
For those who choose to refuse this year’s election results and passed harsh criticism and arrogant view on the CPP, to me, they clearly chose to reject the voices and will of the 6.88 million voters. I would also like to remind us a bit of Cambodian recent history.
In the early 90s, some western countries chose to distance themselves from the CPP and placed their cards against it, and the CPP proved them wrong.
In 1998, the international community distance themselves from the CPP and condemned the election results. Between 1998 and 2002, the CPP has worked to grow the country’s economy and to rehabilitate the country’s infrastructure at a growth rate that wasn’t expected by both local and international community. As a result, everyone benefited. The CPP proved them wrong.
In 2018, some opponents of the ruling party decided not to go to the polls in protest of the electoral process.
However, the majority of Cambodian people chose to do the opposite. They went to exercise their voting rights!
Yet again, the same tone of rejecting the election results has started by the same countries and the same small group of people. They expressed their discontent and condemned the ruling party.
This reminds me of a story in the bible. The Israelites were slaves to Pharaoh for 400 years. They wanted to be out of slavery. Moses led them out of Egypt, but they ended up in the desert for 40 years.
During that time, they were cursing and blaming Moses for bringing them out of slavery. Eventually they reached the promised land. Moses died not long before their arrival. They enjoyed their new prosperous lifestyle, and they forgot about the one who brought them out of Egypt and slavery.
As we can see, people don’t learn – especially those who determined to be the CPP’s opponents, and time has proved them wrong again and again. So it’s very likely that time will prove them wrong – again – this time.
A Cambodian from Montreal, Canada
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The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.