It is interesting to note that the basic members of the Cambodian National Rescue Movement (CNRM), the self-styled movement that has pledged to free former CNRP President Kem Sokha and resuscitate the defunct Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), in a matter of months prior to the general election set for July 29.
For a movement which is largely in self-imposed exile and whose members are family members and politicians devoid of active political ideas nor in touch with reality to make such grandiose claims, isn’t the CNRM an anomaly?
The fact that it was announced in the United States of America, and a country which at face value at least, does not tolerate such movements “officially” says the unwritten answer to the unasked question – is the USA covertly sanctioning this movement?
If so, then is the European Union, which normally follows the footsteps of the USA in its diplomatic actions, going to also covertly follow suit and then appeal to other pro United States allies, Japan, Australia, South Korea to name a few, to follow suit?
Isn’t this illegal group’s blatant claims, achievable or otherwise, go a long way in giving added weight and even legitimacy to the Royal Government’s allegations of the CNRP and its leaders, Kem Sokha and 118 of them in all, were indeed scheming a colour revolution to seize power after the July 29 elections?
The United States’ approach towards Cambodia, especially by hawkish legislators, makes diplomacy difficult and also untenable.
The question I would venture to ask, point blank, is whether the dissolution of the CNRP and the detention of Kem Sokha on charges of treason and the issue of the Cambodians to be repatriated to Cambodia the real reasons for the US ambassador, and ill informed US legislators who walk the corridors of the power in the Senate and Congress often confrontational stance on Cambodia, or is there some other hidden agenda in play here, to punish the Kingdom of Cambodia and the members of the government, legislature and others who had a role to play in the dissolution of the CNRP?
Or is there a larger geo political “cold war” era stratagem in play here? Could it be because of the ever increasing inflow of Chinese Official Development Assistance or the recently announced impending gifts of lethal Chinese heavy weaponry.
Or could it be the influx of Chinese entrepreneurs into the coastal areas of Koh Kong, Sihanoukville and eventually Kampot and Kep, followed by airports in Koh Kong, Siem Reap and a massive proposed airport in Phnom Penh and probably, if rumours are proven true in the near future, the possibility of domestic airports being planned in provinces such as Mondulkiri, Rattanakiri, Stung Treng, irked the USA and its allies enough to look at punitive or even preemptive measures against Cambodia?
Analysts and politicians and the media can theorize on these various scenarios. I may be a firm believer of conspiracy theory, but is the United States and its allies looking at all these strategic investments of the Chinese as an assault on the USA’s own sphere of influence or the western power’s geo political interest, given the fact that China has Cambodia’s support on the contentious South China Sea?
Are these some of the considerations in play in the USA to allow the CNRM to be formed in the United States, followed by a call by the amateurish call by Kem Sokha’s daughter to call on the United Nations to revoke Cambodia’s membership in the world body, calls for sanctions from seize of property, ban on visa across the board, ban on exports and a list which might go on and on?
Whatever the final scenario turns out to be, Cambodia seems to be once again in the middle of cold war politics with China on one side and the western powers on the other and some adopting a middle ground such as Japan, South Korea and individual members of the EU and corporations such as Wallmart to name a few and possibly even Boeing, looking at the commercial opportunities which Cambodia avails?
It would be an interesting four odd months before the kick-off of the general election campaign and even more curious to see what shape or form the currently still legal Candle Light Party and the Human Rights Party will seek to contest the general election to test what their three odd million voters, as they often claim, will decide come balloting day.
Leap Chanthavy is a Cambodian analyst in Phnom Penh.