At least 200 disgruntled residents from three villages in Siem Reap’s Prasat Bakorng district blocked a 3-km stretch of unsurfaced road on Friday demanding that a private tour operator, which uses the route to ferry tourists to Kompong Pluk floating village, paves the thoroughfare to stop the clouds of dust its buses drag up around their homes, a village representative said.
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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