To be, or not to be, that is the question,” is a famous phrase coined by William Shakespeare in 1603.
However, to renegade self-proclaimed Sam Rainsy, the question differs significantly. To him, it is “To come or not to come?”
The odds are stacked against Rainsy. He has been blacklisted in Asean countries. He may seek other routes. He may just land at Bangkok airport in a well-coordinated and orchestrated drama, led by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) officials who had also tried to intervene on behalf of Mu Sochua, supporters gathered outside Bangkok international airports, be defiant and board a plane back to wherever he came from, Europe, USA, South Korea or other places.
His continued promise to enter Cambodia by land could be a large false flag operation to wrench up the nerves of the ruling government and that of the prime minister and put to bed, any possibility of a speedy trial and conviction followed by a pardon for his much braver one-time comrade in arms, Kem Sokha.
Rainsy has assailed the government for years for almost everything, including the possible loss of Everything-but-Arms (EBA) trade status it currently enjoys . Some European countries, including Germany, Britain, Hungary, and France, have expressed their support to maintain EBA status for Cambodia. It is widely expected that the EU would only implement partial revocation of EBA – which means that the garment industry will not be affected.
There is the recurring accusation of a lack of media freedom when there are more than 100 licensed print and broadcast media and tens of non-registered online news portals here that are dedicated to only spewing venomous and toxic fake news day in and day out and still shedding crocodile tears for the demised print edition of Cambodia Daily, – that was conducted not through governmental pressure but because of a tax fraud amounting to millions of US dollars – plus unregistered overseas broadcasters including US-funded Radio Free Asia – and the list goes on.
Rainsy’s sinister plot is not only aimed at effecting regime change, something which the newly appointed US Ambassador Patrick Murphy has openly distanced himself from, but is also aimed at destroying the life and political career of Kem Sokha, in the name of freeing him.
In the Game of Thrones, political moves such as banning parties, weakening and destroying opponents, turning allies within enemy camps against each other, using the full weight of the executive and legislative departments to destabilise and make illegal opponents and challengers to the crown are part and parcel of the political chessboard.
Just to be clear, Kem Sokha was defiant even when tipped off about his imminent arrest. He stayed and faced the legal system, irrespective of how slow the wheels of justice move. Rainsy, unlike Sokha, fled the country, not once, but three times to avoid legal accountability, after committing numerous serious crimes against the constitution, country and King.
His calls for King Sihamoni to abdicate and turn Cambodia into a republic, well we all know the disastrous consequences of this move and what had happened with a similar move that succeeded in 1970.
His calls for bribery to entice the armed forces to turn their weapons against Prime Minister Hun Sen is tantamount to calling on the armed forces to commit high treason, something of which Rainsy himself is an expert and renowned for. In addition, while Rainsy and his supporters are collecting funds to pay bribes for army defectors, he condemns corruption. Quite a chameleon, this Rainsy.
If any of his Western allies do not even consider the above facts and do not read the reports sent back by diplomats they have based in Cambodia is a travesty of justice and, in itself, a betrayal of the politics of diplomacy.
Back to the Game of Thrones and its story lines, Cambodian politics is a complex web of alliances and conflicts among politicians, some of whom have a clear vision and have propelled the country from a war-torn back-water economy to a roaring Asean tiger with a single digit poverty rate while others, after having lost the elections, narrowly at times, are vying to claim the throne or fighting for independence from it, against a defiant and determined Hun Sen.
Will Rainsy give up his comfortable lifestyle, which includes skiing in the French Alps or surfing in the Pacific Ocean and pits mosquitoes against cannons while he gobbles caviar spread French pate for a day in prison like Kem Sokha? Well, time will tell as it is “tick-tocking” to Nov 9. Thus, the question remains: “To come or not to come?”
We predict that Rainsy does not have the courage to return to Cambodia to face the court of justice. His attempt is to create a political epoch, stir public discontent and hatred and challenge the legitimacy of the ruling elites. Rainsy will escape for his safety while some of his followers will face arrest.
Against such a backdrop, the security situation in Cambodia will be under control. There will be not much disruptive effects to the power status quo. The state institutions will continue to function normally. The business and investment climate will remain stable and dynamic.