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Lessons to be learned from the colour revolution movements for Cambodia’s peace and prosperity

Mengdavid Thong / Share:
Libyans gather on Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya, on Feb. 17, 2018. (Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)

The colour revolution is the term used by the media to describe the various revolutionary movements happening in the 2000s.

The term was later adopted by many movements in the Middle-East, referring to the democratic movements or breakthroughs.

Many colour revolutions have occurred in the past. They include the Georgia Rose Revolution in 2012, the Ukraine Orange Revolution 2004 and the Kyrgyzstan Tulip Revolution in 2005.
These revolutionary movements resulted in political regime changes.

One of most recent notable movements called “The Arab Spring” occurred in 2011, triggering the domino effect in regime changes across the Arab world.

In early 2011, thousands of people gathered across the region, calling on authoritarian rulers to step down and threatening regional peace and stability.

The outcomes from the mentioned movements destabilised regional peace and security.

The Arab Spring has given rise to the belief that the long term dictatorship might be removable through peaceful protests.

Such movements, however, also yielded in increasing number of immature political parties, long term conflict, civil war and economic uncertainty across the region.

The Arab Spring, for example, caused still-unfolding radical political changes in the region.

In Libya, after the revolt against the colonel Muammar al-Qadafi-led regime backed by the United States and the European Union, the country’s new democratic system has become fragile.

In Egypt and Tunisia, the revolutions exacerbated the division between secular and Islamic groups, leading to continuous fighting between them.

Cambodia embraces a pluralist political party and a constitutional monarchy, whereby the King symbolises the unity of the people and political parties. The Prime Minister is democratically elected by the people. In the last decades, the Cambodian economy has remained strong with an average of 7 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, thanks to the effective government National Rectangular Strategy.

The Cambodian government has also declared that the nation will become a high-income country by 2050.

In the 2018 national election, the Cambodian People’s Party, which won the majority of seats in the National Assembly with participants from various political parties. Sam Rainsy, the exiled president of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), made his latest announcement that he would return to Cambodia on Nov 9, 2019, with the support from the United Nations, the international community, domestic and oversea supporters.

He also called for a nationwide revolution to stage a coup against the Cambodia democratically elected government, which is ruled by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Politically, Sam Rainsy‘s actions are considered by some as an early phase of a colour revolution, because those actions target rural poor who are resentful of the government’s rule.

They are against the Cambodian National Constitution, democratic values and laws.

Western countries do not have the power or jurisdiction to dominate Cambodian domestic affairs, despite Rainsy’s claim of their support for his return trip to Cambodia. The Cambodian government has the jurisdiction to arrest him.

Economically, the call for a colour revolution against a democratically elected prime minister would only worsen the peace, national stability and economic development Cambodia has enjoyed over the past years.

Any disturbance in social peace would discourage foreign investment and disrupt business activities in the country, leading to long-term economic turbulence and recession.

This will not only hurt the elite and middle class people, but also the rural poor people whose income is by and large dependent on foreign investment.

To sum up, a successful revolution will not produce good results for the Cambodian people.

Therefore, the Cambodian government has to stop Rainsy’s acts of radicalisation and incitement, which could destabilise and break the spirit of national unity.

Without a clear distinction between revolution and peaceful protest, the majority of Cambodian people could be indoctrinated with radical ideology, creating a division among Cambodians and leaving them facing a new prospect of civil war.

The Cambodian government should, on its part, give the public a clear explanation regarding the impacts of a colour revolution and set out a correct strategy to arrest the leader of the revolution in accordance with international and national laws.

Mengdavid Thong is a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute

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