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Opposition given new lease of life, should avoid confrontational stance

Sam Rainsy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 10 November 2019. facebook/@rainsy.sam.5

By any standards, the coup plot orchestrated by Sam Rainsy has failed. Those supporters, including some foreigners, who stand with Sam Rainsy have faced and will face consequences.

Notwithstanding the call from Sam Rainsy to rise up against the government, the armed forces have shown its unity and loyalty to the government. They are committed to protecting peace, stability and legitimacy of the government democratically elected by the people.

The armed forces plays a crucial role in Cambodian politics, especially to ensure that democratic and peaceful power transition prevails. After collective hard work to prevent Sam Rainsy and his clique from implementing a coup on 9 November, the morale of the armed forces has bren further  boosted. Their unity and loyalty is unquestionable.

Sam Rainsy, for sure, will not be able to return because he does not have the courage to face the courts in Cambodia. He is a well-known coward, irresponsible, populist and extremist politician. He is a cheater and liar.

To all foreigners who do not fully understand Cambodian political dynamics and reality, and who think they really know who Sam Rainsy is, please be cautious and vigilant of his behavior. He is willing to burn a house to boil his own eggs.

Sam Rainsy is being marginalised within his own group. Kem Sokha and his supporters have lost trust in Sam Rainsy- who does not have a clear strategy and vision to lead.

A new face and era for the opposition party in Cambodia is crystalising, likely to be led by Kem Sokha’s faction. That would contribute to peace, development, and democracy for the Kingdom. That is the only way forward.

Courage, patience,  a sense of responsibility, and respect for rule of law bear fruits. Kem Sokha has demonstrated these values and strictly adhered to the rule of law. He needs to maintain this position and gradually move forward with certainty.

Personality still matters in Cambodian politics. Without a responsible and visionary leader, the political party or movement will not succeed.

For long-term peace to be sustained,  it requires strong institution to ensure that leadership change within the party and across the party will be smooth and peaceful.

National reconciliation is critical but with the condition that all parties are trustworthy and committed to national interest. Populist and extremist politics should be not tolerated.

Dialogue between rational actors tends to be more productive and fruitful. Sam Rainsy has cheated his interlocutors many times. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has completely lost trust in him.

If Kem Sokha is rationale and pragmatic, he could save the future of his political party. There are conditions attached though. Firstly, he needs to strictly follow the court’s decision.

Secondly, he needs to keep Sam Rainsy at bay.

Thirdly, he must have a firm political will in political reconciliation and nation building.

Fourthly, he needs to demonstrate his independence and autonomy from foreign countries.

Fifthly, he needs to demonstrate goodwill, honesty and faith in wanting dialogue.

Time will tell how he will perform in the coming days and weeks. The bilateral meetings between himself with foreign diplomats in Cambodia are positive given that  he refrained from talking politics, meaning that he has not provoked and stirred public protest against the government.

Violent protests damages the national reconciliation and nation building process. As a post-conflict country, Cambodia’s peace remains fragile and vulnerable to political extremism, populism and foreign intervention.


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