Sam Rainsy has lost it. His repeated calls for Cambodians to boycott the July general election have largely fallen on deaf ears. His erstwhile Candle Light Party and jailed Kem Sokha’s Human Rights Party’s boycott of the general election did not discourage some 20 other parties, including the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) from registering and qualifying to contest in the July 29 election.
Mr Rainsy, instead of advocating for Cambodians to exercise their fundamental rights in casting their ballots on polling day to gauge the competing parties credibility, reputation, popularity and acceptability, has repeatedly called for the people to boycott the general election and sacrifice their rights for his own selfishness reasons.
He is under the notion that if he cannot get the government to reverse the legal barring of the former opposition party, then it is his right to call on the rest of the competing parties and the people to boycott the election – meaning, if he cannot have it his way, then no one else should!
His idiosyncrasy and sycophantic ways have now come in a complete circle and he has no qualms to resort to a rather cheap and desperate measure to call on his Majesty the King not to heed the government’s call, to the people at large and all registered political parties, to refrain from boycotting the election.
It is unbelievable that Mr Rainsy can stoop to such low levels that only indicates sheer stupidity on his part. This man is desperate, and he is willing to climb a long slippery slope to try and force the international community to shun the election – a move which has backfired as a number of foreign governments and even lawmakers from the United States have voiced their intention to come and observe the election, and even support it through funding and other aid.
How logical is it for Mr Rainsy to petition King Sihamoni, a constitutional monarch, not to heed the call of the government requesting all Cambodians to turn up and vote at the July 29 election?
The government is doing what it is mandated to do in the constitution – carry out an election in a democratic way every five years without fail.
Is Mr Rainsy now clutching at the straws as he sees his political hopes slowly but surely slipping away, like the dying gasp of a fish out of water? Did he think the government would capitulate again and grant him an amnesty to allow him to return to the country in the lead-up to the July election?
Mr Rainsy has been ardently advocating for the reversal of the court decision that led to the dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), and he is banking on what he thinks was a precedent set in 2013 when he was absolved of all his wrongdoings and allowed to set foot in the country again. At this juncture, this is sheer wishful thinking and self-delusion.
At the back of his mind, Mr Rainsy hopes to emulate the outcome of the recently concluded Malaysian election where the ruling government for close to 60 years was elected out of power. Again and again, he tries to win international sympathy and stay relevant while being on death’s knell.
This time around, the scenarios have changed and a repeat of 2013 is highly unlikely. The registered and legalised political parties have seized the momentum of the day, largely due to the vacuum created by the absence of Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha, to seek their fortunes at winning some seats in the National Assembly so as to enable the forthcoming general election to be a truly democratic one.
It is highly likely that the 2018 election may see several parties being represented in Parliament, indicating that multiparty democracy is alive and well in Cambodia. Calling for an election boycott, whether it comes from Mr Rainsy or from foreigners trying to interfere in the internal affairs of the country, just denigrates the Cambodian people. Their right to vote must be respected and that is the core tenet of a democracy. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords sought to strengthen democracy in the country through elections. A boycott call would relegate what Cambodians had fought so hard to free themselves from the yoke of domination by foreign powers.