Hun Sen Says CPP Largess Will End if Election Is Lost
By | March 7, 2013

Less than five months from the national elections, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday warned the public that his ruling CPP would stop making charitable donations toward infrastructure and national development if the party is not reelected.

Speaking at the inauguration of a Chinese-funded expansion of National Road 6A in Kompong Cham province, Mr. Hun Sen appealed to gathered villagers and monks to vote for the CPP in the July 28 polls or risk electing an opposition that would not be as generous as his own party.

“The CPP is now doing hundreds of thousands of projects, small and large projects, for which the budget, rather than from the national budget, comes from CPP members including military officials, farmers, business and investors, who pump resources into these projects to assist people,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

“When the election comes, if people don’t vote for [the CPP], we will be disheartened and will stop giving,” he said.

“All projects will be eliminated…. Even a project like pumping water to dry farms,” the prime minister said.

“The opposition has never pumped water, the CPP does everything like that at the moment.”

Mr. Hun Sen said his CPP members also contribute toward building roads, pagodas and schools.

“I spend hundreds of millions of dollars paying for projects, including raising orphans, disabled children and other organizations. I don’t even use the national budget,” the prime minister said, without elaborating on the source of such largess.

Mr. Hun Sen also warned that Buddhist monks, to whom CPP members give large donations of cash, food and other goods in elaborate Kathen ceremonies, would also be cut off.

“I would like to inform that in 2014, if the CPP loses the election, the monks will not get Kathen anymore,” Mr. Hun Sen said, also claiming that buildings bearing his name would be destroyed by a new government in the event of a CPP election loss.

Political parties are not allowed to campaign until a month before elections, but Mr. Hun Sen claimed his comments did not constitute campaigning, as they were merely facts.

“I’m just explaining, not doing election campaigning. It is not a violation of the Election Law.”

Independent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said he perceived Mr. Hun Sen’s words as a “threat” designed to induce confusion about private funds used for the public good and the money from the national budget that goes toward developing the country.

Also in his speech on Tuesday, Mr. Hun Sen thanked China for financing the widening of the over 240-km road connecting Kom­pong Cham province’s Batheay district with Siem Reap province, at a cost of more than $248 million.

Chinese firm Shanghai Construction Group will take three-and-a-half years to turn the road from a two-lane to a four-lane highway, Mr. Hun Sen said.

“Thank you to the Chinese government that supports Cambodia’s development process by providing grants, no-interest loans, concessional loans and urges investors to come to Cambodia,” he said.

He said China was unique in the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in that it was still a developing country, but gave the most support to less developed countries.

“I think, not just Cambodia, but other developing countries appreciate Chinese foreign diplomacy that supports the ideas of developing countries,” he said.

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Groups of garment workers poured out of factories in Phnom Penh and around the country Wednesday to demand a “living” monthly minimum wage of $177 for the industry, joined by supporters picketing outside embassies and brand shops in Australia and Europe.

Four months after a Newsweek article reported that Somaly Mam falsified her backstory as a sex slave, prompting her exit from the NGO named after her, the anti-trafficking activist publicly defended herself for the first time Wednesday in an article published on the same day that a public relations offensive was launched on her behalf.

Ahead of his trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today, Cambodian-American dissident Sourn Serey Ratha this week again denied the sedition charges against him and urged the government to release his supporters now in detention.

Two union representatives were arrested and detained for several hours in Prey Veng province Wednesday as a nearly weeklong strike for better working conditions and bonuses continued at the Chinese-owned Komchay Mear Trading factory, police and unionists said.

More than 5,000 employees of the Juhui Footwear Factory in Kompong Cham province who were fired on Tuesday after joining strikes to demand bonus pay and better benefits Wednesday rejected their severance packages and vowed to continue protesting.

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