Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - City seers provide their poll forecasts



City seers provide their poll forecasts

A fortuneteller predicts the results of the upcoming commune elections at her stall along the riverside yesterday in Phnom Penh.
A fortuneteller predicts the results of the upcoming commune elections at her stall along the riverside yesterday in Phnom Penh. Erin Handley

City seers provide their poll forecasts

After lighting a cluster of incense sticks and bowing three times, a fortuneteller on the capital’s north side yesterday draped his neck with wooden beads and ivory carvings before fanning out a deck of playing cards.

One of Phnom Penh’s most prominent clairvoyants, he claims the fate of the hotly contested commune elections this coming Sunday sits right at his fingertips.

On a crimson tablecloth, two cards are overturned: the ace of clubs, representing the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, and the ace of diamonds, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

“I am very surprised at the two aces. This is the magic,” the fortuneteller said. The two aces, he says, show it is “very, very close”. There will be complaints but no protests, tension but no bloodshed.

The CPP, he predicts, will have a narrow victory; around 52 percent to 48 percent.

He divined the opposition’s vulnerability from the presence of the notorious ace of spades; if a sick man comes to have his fortune told and overturns this unlucky card, it could spell out his death.

But when asked which communes will be dominated by which parties – and about the fate of jailed human rights defenders in the Kingdom – he demurs.

“I am just a fortuneteller, I am not an analyst,” he said.

Indeed, the city’s seers – like its analysts – aren’t totally certain what will happen on June 4. But on the strict condition of anonymity, three prognosticators, who collect coin in exchange for fortunes, agreed to share their election predictions with The Post.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
According to one fortune teller’s cards, the CPP, represented by the ace of clubs, is predicted to gain a narrow victory over the opposition, represented by the ace of diamonds. Erin Handley

The talisman-draped diviner’s auguring credentials stem from his ancestry – his grandfather, he says, was capable of almost biblical feats.

“He took a scarf and chanted over it, then he threw it on the ground. It became a snake,” he said.

“Then after the snake danced, it turned back into a scarf.”

He added that when he narrowly avoided a fatal car bombing that claimed 24 people’s lives during Lon Nol’s reign, he took it as a sign.

Interpreting a row of aces and eights yesterday, he said that while 70 percent of CNRP supporters are “really brave”, the remaining 30 percent are “very scared”, and could switch their vote to the ruling party.

“The CNRP only have supporters, while the CPP have a lot of money and resources,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Phnom Penh’s riverside, a lady in purple sitting among lotus blooms also claims to have powers of foresight.

Like the first augurer, this seer says the election will be close; she can read it on the cards.

But first the cards offer some contradictory predictions: first, that the CPP will win 80 percent of the vote, then that the CNRP will take 90 percent.

Also finding the ace of spades – which is “very, very bad” and signifies there will be confrontations – she said the CPP will ultimately prove the victor.

“There is tension. The CPP will win, but there’s violence. There are no arrests and no deaths,” she said. “The cards show that they will discuss and negotiate with each other.”

But in the bowels of Boeung Keng Kang market, a young self-proclaimed clairvoyant in black foresees a different outcome.

“The CNRP will have the really strong majority of the vote, there will be so many votes for the CNRP,” she says, pointing to a pair of red aces as proof.

Again, the ace of spades appears: A CNRP victory would not be without conflict.

“They win, but maybe they cannot secure it if there is a problem,” she said. “The elections will be free and fair, but there is a mystery we cannot see into.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A young diviner predicts a CNRP victory before a shrine at her stall in Boeung Keng Kang market yesterday. Erin Handley

“They will make a deal, but we do not know what the deal is,” she said.

The Kingdom often engages in ceremonial superstitions: The Moha Songkran almanac, containing a slew of prophecies, is compiled by the Ministry of Cults and Religion for every Khmer New Year, while an annual ploughing ceremony foretells crop yields based on royal oxen’s eating preferences.

Even Prime Minister Hun Sen last year lauded a Thai fortuneteller’s “perfectly correct” predictions, which foretold the CNRP’s downfall.

Social researcher Meas Ny said high-ranking officials often used augury and prayer to their political advantage. But he said that while the elderly still held a lot of trust in old traditions, “it’s not very popular with the youth, who are more obsessed with technology”.

CPP Spokesman Suos Yara said he was unfazed by the predictions of a tight result.

“My personal fortuneteller told [me] that we will win by a landslide,” Yara said via text.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A fortune teller predicts the results of the upcoming commune elections at her stall along the riverside yesterday in Phnom Penh. Erin Handley

CNRP deputy Eng Chhay Eang, on the other hand, laughed off the prophecies. “I do not believe in fortunetellers,” he said. “This is not up to the fortuneteller, it is up to the people’s will.”

The commune elections are widely regarded by both major parties as a forecast for next year’s crucial national election. But for the fate of that contest, the fortunetellers yesterday predicted enquirers would have to come back and ask again next year.

Yet according to Ny, the social researcher, something other than augury might be more helpful in 2018: proper political polling.

“I support the polling,” he said. “This is really needed, but because of the anxiety around political parties [and] because Cambodia is still politically fragile, maybe we need to move slowly.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro