The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has been unanimously elected as the vice-president of the Centrist Democrat International (IDC-CDI) for the Asia-Pacific. IDC-CDI was founded in 1961 bringing together 94 political parties, organisations and associations from Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Asia Pacific whose thoughts and actions are guided by the principles of centrist democracy and humanism.
The CPP has been active within IDC-CDI for more than 10 years and became the official member of this political network in 2016 as determined the belief that the values and principles of centrist democracy fits well into the Cambodian context. Of course, the concept itself is dynamic and flexible which enables Cambodia to stay relevant and responsive to changes and emerging realities in the region and beyond.
The CPP is a modern democratic party with local governance doctrines deriving from Buddhism, history, kingship and culture. The CPP is adaptable and favours pragmatism at both national and international levels. The party, which had its roots in Marxism and revolutionary thoughts, has embraced capitalism and liberal democracy after the Paris Peace Accords in 1991. Consequently, the CPP has adapted well in the new political context through self-transformation.
Under the wise and pragmatic leadership of Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia has been slowly guided from a war-torn and least developed country to a lower-middle-income economy in 2016. Proudly, the Kingdom is advancing on a right track to become a higher-middle-income country by 2030 and high-income country by 2050. These achievements have materialised thanks to Cambodia’s peace and stability, open political and economic system, and her people’s aspirations and active participation in socio-economic and political life.
The liberal democratic system enshrined in the 1993 Cambodian Constitution is the guiding principle of the political system and governance of the Kingdom in her nation-building process. Since 1998, national unity has been forged as a result of the successful implementation of the win-win policy initiated by Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen to reintegrate Khmer Rouge remnants into society. The country’s modern history clearly shows that since Cambodia gained her independence from France in 1953, the Kingdom has enjoyed the longest peace starting from 1998 until now. And under the stewardship of the CPP, Cambodia will continue to enjoy peace for coming years and decades.
Emerging issues such as inequality, environmental degradation, and social injustice – partly due to the laissez faire market economy and unfair globalisation – demand new vision and strategies in order to help society to transform and adapt to new changes. The fourth industrialisation represented by the fast evolution of artificial intelligence, internet of things, and robotics is disrupting the job market and humanism. Hence, centrist democracy is an ideal platform to guide national development towards a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable society.
Centrist democracy is the middle path or third way between extreme capitalism and extreme socialism. It stresses the values and principles of social market economy in which a free market economy goes hand in hand with social and environmental protection, and the promotion of humanism. State intervention is required to ensure that the fruits of growth are shared in a just and fair manner.
Economic democracy, a fair share of economic opportunities, is as important as political freedom and human rights. We need to develop a governance system that benefits everyone, not only a small group of people. State institutions play a critical role in directing the market economy towards the enhancement of economic democracy.
Social protection has become more relevant in Cambodia, given that the number of vulnerable people is ascending amidst fast industrialisation and irreversible globalisation. Therefore, the CPP’s policy platform for the upcoming national election is to strengthen social protection for the vulnerable and marginalised groups. Factory workers, farmers, women, people with disabilities, and the elderly are the main target groups that need more financial and institutional support. Women empowerment and gender equality are critical to achieving inclusive and sustainable development.
Cambodia under the leadership of the CPP will embark on a new journey in which people-centred development matter. This is a development model to ensure that the benefits of an enlarged economic pie brought about by economic growth would filter down to individuals in the form of increased incomes and social wellbeing. It will be the core guiding value and principle of the national development strategy.
Suos Yara is a Member of Parliament and Spokesperson of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)