Takeo province – At least 70 representatives of the Grassroots Democratic Party gathered here on Saturday at Phnom Da Temple to kickoff the party’s three-week election campaign, prompting criticism from rivals.
The temple, in Angkor Borey district’s Kauk Thlork commune, was a sacred place for Cambodia’s former powerful Kingdom.
Almost all of the participants were party representatives from various provinces who came to get instructions from the party leadership to lead campaign rallies in their areas.
Yang Saing Koma, director of the party’s board and its prime minster candidate, said his party would do its best to make good on its pledges.
“Today is the first day of the political campaign,” Mr Saing Koma said. “We gather at Phnom Da Temple to swear commitment to our policies.”
The selection of Phnom Da Temple for the gathering faced some criticism from Facebook users and League of Democracy Party president Khem Veasna.
Under a picture of the GDP gathering, Mr Veasna sarcastically wrote on Facebook: “The campaign of the party that is made up of intellectuals”.
Mr Saing Koma said the selection of the venue went beyond spiritual aspects.
“We do politics with clear policies as stated in our green book and we came here to swear that when we get elected, we will try our best to implement what we have promised and written,” he said. “We chose this temple because it is the former Kauk Thlork Kingdom which represents the birth and soul of the Khmer nation.”
“Our main purpose is to worship for happiness and peace for not only the GDP, but for the whole election, and Cambodia,” he added. “When we come to Phnom Da, you will see a female statute which represents the role of Mother Democracy which we have advocated for.”
Seng Raingsey, a candidate in Phnom Penh, said the party does not really care about wining or losing, but about the delivery of policies.
“Our party is new but our leadership works in a mature manner,” he said.
The party’s policies are set out in the so-called green book containing 125 points split up into five main areas to strengthen sectors of the country, including education, healthcare and the economy.
Following the ceremony at Phnom Da Temple, party members hit the road for a rally in Baty district, where they then dispersed to their provinces.
Separately, in Takeo’s Daun Keo city the CPP also held a gathering over the weekend with about 3,000 supporters.
Bin Chhin, a CPP lawmaker for the province, was at the rally where a live video of Prime Minister Hun Sen was played as he gave a speech in Phnom Penh.
Soeun Sorn, a CPP supporter, said he came to the rally to listen to Mr Hun Sen.
“No one will ever beat the CPP and the party will win again,” he said.
There are eight National Assembly seats to be filled in Takeo province.