Suos Yara, a lawmaker with the ruling CPP for Preah Vihear province, is also a spokesman for the party and sat down with Khmer Times’ reporter Ven Rathavong to talk about the party’s preparation and policies ahead of the national election in July.
KT: Considering in the recent Malaysian elections Umno, with 7 million members, could not get enough votes, what is the CPP doing to ensure that its 5 million members come out and vote for the party?
Mr Yara: CPP members have benefited from the CPP-led government. The culture of sharing has been practised within the party. The incentives provided to CPP members are relatively fairly distributed. Therefore, the level of loyalty of CPP members is high.
KT: What do you think about the dissolved CNRP calling for an election boycott and how do you think it will affect voter turnout?
Mr Yara: All the members of the CPP [which make up a majority of voters registered to vote] will likely turn out to vote due to their interest and commitment in maintaining democracy in Cambodia. The CPP members have a strong conviction that democracy is the foundation of peace and development. They are the anchors of the future of Cambodia.
KT: How about the 3 million people who voted for the CNRP in the 2013 election. How will the CPP win their hearts and minds prior to July’s election?
Mr Yara: Most of the CNRP members and supporters have lost their hope and confidence in the CNRP due to weak leadership. They will likely cast their votes for smaller political parties and some of them may shift to the CPP.
KT: What is the political platform of the CPP to gain votes in the upcoming election?
Mr Yara: The main message of the CPP to win votes is to ensure people have peace and development, those are the prevailing polices. The CPP will also implement deep reforms with better results. The people have strong trust in the leadership of the CPP. As they are much more informed, their decision is to vote for the CPP.
KT: Will the CPP adopt populist policies to win votes even if they have a negative impact on economy?
Mr Yara: The CPP has been pragmatic in its reforms. Economic pragmatism, liberalisation, and diversification will remain key features of the CPP’s economic agenda. Populist politics is a threat to sustainable peace and development, and the CPP will not use populist politics to win votes.
KT: What is the CPP’s manifesto?
Mr Yara: The manifesto of the CPP is “peace and development”. Voting for the CPP means voting for continued peace and development. Within the context of rising geopolitical uncertainties, we need strong and visionary leadership. Only the CPP can provide that kind of leadership. The CPP leadership will be more transformative and innovative. That is the only way we can stay relevant as public opinion and sentiment changes.
KT: What do you think about the election process without the participation of the dissolved CNRP?
Mr Yara: Democracy prevails and thrives even without the presence of the main opposition party. No single political party can dictate democracy in Cambodia. The CPP is determined to work with other political parties to consolidate democratic institutions through capacity building and people’s participation.
KT: Has the CPP already prepared an election campaign strategy to attract votes on voting day?
Mr Yara: “Deep reforms”, “innovation”, “outward looking” and “future orientation” are the key words that we have been discussing. The CPP will deliver more concrete reform results; it will be a critical turning point in the reform process of the country since 1993. We will no longer tolerate inefficiency, irresponsibility, unaccountability, and corruption.
KT: There are 20 parties joining the election. Do you think that the Funcinpec Party will be your main competitor or are other parties on your radar?
Mr Yara: All political parties are main competitors. We never look down on our competitors. All parties have their own strengths and weaknesses. But the most important thing is that we need to work together to build our nation. We don’t have much time left to realise our common vision of becoming a high middle-income country by 2030 and high-income country by 2050.