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Why bother send a UN special rapporteur to the country if the democratic backsliding is all but ignored?
Like young people the world over, the youth of Cambodia are glued to their mobile phones. They sit in cafes and bars, order food from street vendors, and weave their motor scooters through Phnom Penh’s frenetic traffic, all the while their thumbs tapping away, texting, gaming, connecting.
The verdict of the Khmer Rouge tribunal (The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, ECCC) on 16 November that found Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan guilty of genocide was scarcely surprising.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last week spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. His presence at this year was highly strategic following the country’s recent general election, which saw his party, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) secure its mandate extended for another five years.
Concerns ahead of Cambodia’s elections on 29 July centre on the judgement that under Prime Minister Hun Sen the country has become increasingly authoritarian.
Japan has remained steadfast in its support of the upcoming Cambodian general election on 29 July amid growing pressure by its citizens, civil society organisations, and supporters of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – Cambodia’s former main opposition party.
Cambodia is headed for national elections on 29 July in which, although there are 20 parties contending, there is only one possible victor: the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
The Cambodian government has continued tightening the screws on its already crippled free press, introducing severe prohibitions on election reporting ahead of the ballot in July, and establishing a taskforce to monitor social media posts.
In less than three months’ time, Cambodians will head to the polls to cast their ballot in the national election. Already faced with the difficult choice of which party and candidate to vote for, Cambodians now have to decide whether they should vote at all.
The sale of The Phnom Penh Post to Malaysian interests with clear links to the Hun Sen government in Cambodia, and the subsequent sackings and resignations of journalists, is already recognised as a sad, even bitter, end to the Post’s admired role as a newspaper that continued to strive for the best journalistic standards.