Sam Rainsy, in his 26 years of political career, since the onset of the first mandate in 1993, has not changed in terms of strategy and tactics. He has always been the one who holds a grudge.
His motives and pathways are predictable. His supporters have been misled, manipulated and nothing more than sacrificial tools for his political ambition to achieve his lust for power and take revenge against Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The past 26 years has seen Rainsy adopt all sorts of rhetoric including radical incitement, and now extremist policies to overthrow a legitimate Royal Government of Cambodia, one that has been recognized by the international community. Many bilateral and multilateral agreements have been signed, a true recognition of the legitimacy of a government established after the 2018 general election.
Knowing that his political powerbase among overseas Cambodians in Europe, Australia and the North America is declining, Rainsy’s approach is to create political events in order to make him more relevant.
Unleashing chaos and unrest, which will eventually lead to bloodshed, is the only card left for him to play to try to win public opinion inside and outside of Cambodia. His speculative return to Cambodia in early November will reveal his last card.
He has played everything elseok. Calling on the monarch, King Norodom Sihamoni a puppet and urging his abdication, just as he did more than 10 years ago, calling Lt. Gen Hun Manet’s West Point Graduation a fake and which was promptly and rightly dismissed swiftly by the US Embassy, urging the armed forces to commit treason against the country and trying to hijack the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s legacy as the founding father of Kingdom of Cambodia and in the process, trying to hoodwink the millions who will throng the capital to partake in the water festival celebrations, says it all.
Rainsy has enjoyed his aristocratic lifestyle in Paris, while claiming Cambodians are suffering. He does not have experiences going through hardship during the war. He does not understand the value of peace, which was hard earned. He is putting the life of his innocent believers and followers at risk.
He neglects the reality- only seeing Cambodia from his utopian perspective. His rhetoric has been Cambodia is a lackluster, sluggish economy. The people are suffering- similar to the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal regime. The fact is that Cambodia is the second fastest growing economy in the region. The poverty rate has come down to about 10 percent in 2018 as compared to 47.8 percent in 2007.
In the last fifteen years, Cambodia has seen the economy, in real terms, more than tripled and poverty levels reduced by more than half. Unemployment, official figures are at less than 1 percent. GDP per capita reached $1,538 by December 2018, compared to $229 in December 1993.
What is Rainsy’s play?
Calling on the EU to revoke the precious EBA trade benefits from Cambodia, which would impact several hundred thousand of Cambodia’s workforce, is a low blow aimed at creating street and labor unrest throughout the country.
Does Rainsy or his band of knights at the last supper even care? Probably not, as long as they unleash terror on the streets, especially the capital Phnom Penh, gain international sympathy for provoked violence, and gain power through what they call a “people’s revolution”, they would take the chance.
Similar to Hong Kong where violence is escalating, Rainsy’s plan is provoke street violence and create chaotic atmosphere to challenge the legitimacy of the government. His calculation is that to realize a regime change in Cambodia, it needs three-pronged approach. First, hitting the economic foundations- which include the revocation of EBA and GSP from Cambodia. Second, igniting public grievances and provoking people power uprising. Third, gaining international attention and sympathy.
To those foreign parliamentarians and congressmen, senators and Cambodian diaspora, who are throwing their support behind Rainsy and his clique, better step back, reflect and take a realistic look at Cambodia.
Please refrain from interfering in Cambodia’s internal affairs and stop adding fuel to the fire with irresponsible statements which could enrage other Cambodians. Please act cautiously and do not condone regime change.
A violent regime change, through undemocratic means, has proven inconceivably disastrous. Examples are plenty, from Tunisia to Libya and Yemen. Rainsy’s intention to seek regime change definitely will be disastrous for the country.
It is imperative and necessary to stop him from carrying his plan. Peace and stability first.