This is an open letter to Ambassadors.
Cambodia adheres to a multi-party liberal democracy and holds regular elections without fail. The 6th National Election on July 29 will be held as scheduled with the participation of 20 political parties which enjoy equal rights and privileges. The majority of Cambodian voters will be participating. Campaigning for the vote is being conducted in a free and fair atmosphere without violence. Compared to the previous elections, the campaign for the 2018 election is awe-inspiring. There have been no insulting words, no blasphemous statements, no incitements, no racial slurs, no violence and no hate speech, as compared to previously. Unfortunately, there are bad campaigns orchestrated by extremists overseas and their in-country cohorts to intimidate and block the right of citizens to participate in elections. That is clearly unconstitutional.
Excellency Ambassadors, as you all know, in this world there is no democratic standard. Each country in Europe, America, Africa and Asia has different political systems and cultures. Cambodia’s neighboring countries also have different political forms. In some countries, where elections are held regularly, results are respected and sometimes they are not. In some countries power changes by force through coups, and others through revenge-filled colour revolutions. A few countries have even suspended democracy in times of national elections and crises. Those are their choices under their sovereign rights and interests.
Excellency ambassadors, judging from our country’s two thousand years of history, Cambodians dare to say proudly: “Now Cambodia is more spectacular than ever! Cambodia has developed more than ever. Cambodia has more human resources than ever and is a nation of morals and virtue. Cambodia is a nation of hope and there are high expectations for the great future of our nation. The lives of the Cambodian people have improved over time and Cambodians are now more familiar with the world than ever. Cambodia has more national unity than ever and Cambodians are also more aware of how to manage their country’s fate better than ever.”
Excellency Ambassadors, of course, Cambodia is also facing a problem in which opportunists exploit the country. This is due to the tumultuous history of Cambodia during the past four decades, the innocence of the Cambodian people, the gap and different interpretations of culture, and the ideological influences that the perpetrators continue to impose on Cambodians in a bid to mislead them to serve their illicit political purposes. Some foreigners and also some extremist politicians who have seen the problems, have also tried to seize the opportunity to enter Cambodia and engage in fraudulent activities in any possible way, including violating the law and Cambodian sovereignty.
“Democracy in Cambodia is dead,” clamour the extremist opposition. This statement has a serious flaw because democracy is dead when there are no elections. The real killers of democracy are those campaigning against the holding of elections in Cambodia. Who are the culprits trying to prevent Cambodians from voting? Yes, it is Sam Rainsy and his cliques.
Therefore Excellency Ambassadors, please be the common judge of this mischief and hear the will of the Cambodian people who are participating in this democratic process. The Cambodian people have the right to vote and it is totally undemocratic to prevent them from exercising this right which is enshrined in the Constitution.
Cambodia’s economic growth is at an unprecedented 7 percent and Cambodians today are happier than ever. There is no fear of economic uncertainty, no fear of turmoil, no fear of riots and no fear of political instability. Cambodia’s progress over the past two decades, including the average economic growth of 7 percent per year, is due to the strength of peace, stability and security. This development has also contributed to strengthening of good economic ties between Cambodia and your countries, respected Ambassadors. The great accomplishments that exist today are the great fundamentals that we must not overlook and must jointly nurture even more for the mutual benefit of our countries.
Excellency Ambassadors, finally, perhaps you would agree with us that elections and the right to vote are the core values of democracy, together with the respect for human rights and promotion of development. Together we can create a world that is fair with mutual respect for one another. Cambodia will continue to strive, as always, to protect national interests and the interests of your countries.
Once again, without this election there would be no democracy in Cambodia. Those who support and act to undermine the election clearly have the goal of selecting national leaders through non-democratic means. They want to create violence and war, which ultimately destroys the whole society. So, we invite you Excellency Ambassadors, as our friends, to open your hearts to remain neutral, to respect the will of the Cambodian people, to respect each other’s sovereignty, and help us participate in the process of democracy in Cambodia in a sincere and honest manner.
Alexander Johnson is a Volunteer, Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia