From Hong Kong to Lebanon, from Chile to Iraq, violent protests have significantly challenged the legitimacy of the government in those countries and regions.
The failure of economic and social reforms, poor public service delivery, corruption, and rising inequality are the common root causes of the people’s uprising in Iraq, Chile and Lebanon.
The protesters in these countries are calling for regime change or radical social and political change.
Economics determines politics. Lack of job opportunities and rising income inequality between the rich and the poor have caused public discontent that leads to political upheaval.
Hong Kong’s crisis is beyond economic issues and it is more complex. No end is in sight for the riots in Hong Kong. It might need a drastic political move to soothe the tension.
The key drivers of the people’s uprising in Hong Kong – the Chinese government call it a “colour revolution” – are largely caused by conflicting political ideology, a housing crisis and foreign meddling.
Cambodia used to experience such massive violent protests after the general election in 2013. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets vandalising and destroying public property, disrupting public order.
The Cambodian government called the massive protest a “colour revolution” – similar to what has been happening in Hong Kong.
The concern over a “colour revolution” was the prime reason leading to the arrest of Kem Sokha, the president of the opposition party, and later the dissolution of his party.
Cambodia is not immune from a “colour revolution”. Foreign interference in Cambodia is much higher than that in Hong Kong.
A well-known Hong Kong politician, Emily Lau Wai-hing, from the Democratic Party, has pledged to support the return of a fugitive Sam Rainsy to Cambodia.
The tactics and strategies used in Hong Kong might be implicated in Cambodia. The general tactics are to occupy public spaces, disrupt public services especially railway and the airport, build barricades and block roads – and disperse into multiple directions and places.
The philosophy of the protesters in Hong Kong is “be water”, which means they are flexible and pragmatic like water.
Masks were used to hide their identity and to deal with tear gas, umbrellas were used to protect themselves, US flags were used to raise the morale and draw the attention of the US policy makers and congressmen.
In terms of communication, without clear leadership structure, protesters discuss strategy on the popular online forum LIHKG and they coordinate plans through the encrypted messaging app such as Telegram.
Social media have been used by protesters in many parts of the world to mobilise the forces and coordinate the plans.
In Cambodia, Facebook is the most popular tool being used by both the government and the opposition movement to send their political messages and sometimes fake news.
Sam Rainsy, the fugitive and his clique do have a plan to stir a “colour revolution” in Cambodia through violent people’s uprising. They have calculated that the number of the supporters and believers in the “change movement” has remained high because of the perceived reform failures of the government.
After a series of diplomatic humiliations, from the removal of his name from the list of speakers at the 141st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the denial of entry of his protege into Thailand, Sam Rainsy understands that international support for him is declining.
The political support networks left are the connections with several US Congressmen who are calling for sanctions on Cambodia and the so-called international alliance of liberals and democrats.
The Democrat Party of Thailand has been sympathetic towards the outlawed CNRP since they are both members of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD).
Noticeably, the CALD was co-founded by the then Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and South Korea’s Kim Dae-Jung in 1993. Chuan Leekpai is now the speaker of the House of Representative of Thailand.
Sam Rainsy has tried to use Thailand as a political base and launchpad for his colour revolution. As a well-known coward, he would not dare to return himself but he would stay behind and provoke mass movement. He wishes that the Thai authorities would not allow him to enter Thailand so that he has a good excuse to escape while saving his face.
He would send his supporters to challenge the Cambodian authorities, disrupt public services and create political and social instability. He would not mind seeing his supporters sacrificing their lives for his self-fish political interest. The victims would be those innocent people who blindly follow Sam Rainsy.