Culture of Dialogue Still Seen as Trap by Some

Va Sonyka and Chea Takihiro / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Sam Rainsy shakes hands with Hun Sen after finalizing the deal that ended the country’s yearlong political deadlock after the disputed 2013 elections. Photo: Chor Sokunthea

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) –The so-called “culture of dialogue” has seen the Kingdom’s two major political parties cooperating on a number of longstanding political issues, but critics of the new detente continue to warn that it could end up being a trap for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

Some CNRP supporters have started to express doubts about the willingness of party president Sam Rainsy to continue fighting for the rights he campaigned for.

Speaking from France on social media on Monday, CNRP vice president Kem Sokha reminded Cambodians to ensure power is dispersed among many politicians instead of giving  leaders more control and authority.

Putting too much value on leaders could cause them to be too pleased with themselves, Mr. Sokha wrote on his Facebook’s page.

“Khmers do not lack of resources, but we lack of leaders that follow policy,” he said.

Addressing the issue of poor leadership, Mr. Sokha called on voters to trust him and his party.

“I will not be silent anymore. People have to work together and not judge who is stronger than who,” he said.

Social Affairs
His comments followed an explosion on social media last weekend prompted by photos of a dinner between Mr. Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen. The former foes were shown enjoying each other’s company – a shocking development for the many CNRP members who loathe Mr. Hun Sen.

Political analysts, however, took a more nuanced view of the dinner, with most claiming it was just a political event and nothing more.  

“It is not clear whether the relations are for the national interest or a drama to save power,” said Sam Inn, co-founder of Khmer for Khmer political movement.  He said that 85 percent of the people he spoke to believe that the dinner between the two leaders was promoted simply to cement their stranglehold on power.

Mr. Inn added that Mr. Sokha seems to oppose closer relationships between the heads of both parties.

“Two Sides of a Coin”

Some CNRP members have recently defected to the ruling party, alleging their party is suffering from poor internal management, Dr. Inn said.

But Yem Ponhearith – a CNRP lawmaker and the party’s spokesperson –  said that the party has been organizing itself better in the last few months.  

He lauded the culture of dialogue, but said not all leaders were inclined to comply with it.

Ros Ravuth, a political analyst, said the parties should use the culture of dialogue to develop the country.  Mr. Ravuth, however, supports Mr. Sokha’s idea of moving away from the veneration of leaders. “Individualism brought Cambodia into war so many times.”  

Em Sovannara, a political science professor, said that closer relations between the heads of both parties will not result in a split within the CNRP.

He believes that Mr. Sokha and Mr. Rainsy represent two sides of a coin and that their collaboration helps the party stay balanced as they try to appeal to a wider voter base.

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