Hun Sen’s Speech on Eastern Border
On August 9, 2012, PM spent more than five hours speaking alone in the Parliament to answer the questions raised by Son Chhay, outspoken MP of the Sam Rainsy Party. He announced his intention to come to the National Assembly days before and asked the media, government’s institutions and authorities, military, police, even the markets and restaurants to prepare for live broadcasting.
On that day, I was in Siem Reap province visiting and talking to smallholders’ farmers there, discussing on causes of poverty and water intervention techniques, which could help them to alleviate the extreme poverty. However, we can predict in advance what and how he is going to deliver. I watched the last part of his marathon speech during lunch time at a local restaurant at Dam Dek market (about 30 km from Siem Reap town). I used to live here and sell Cambodian noodles 33 years a go. My humble reflection concerning his speech:
The good points are:
- He came to reply to the written request of the MP personally, he rarely (never) did it in the past;
- He came to clarify many doubts of the Cambodian people on these extremely sensitive issues. I am not sure, if it was politically useful for him or not;
- We, Cambodians, got some chance to hear one side of the story, what is going on at our eastern border? It was always a secret issue and critics landed mostly in jail.
The bad points are:
- He used his presence to attack MPs from the opposition parties, especially Mr. Son Chhay, who has always written many requests to him and his Ministers to clarify important issues to the public;
- No debate allowed. In normal parliamentary session, when the opposition took the floor, the live broadcast was cut of or the time; but for PM, it was not the case. The President of the National Assembly, also CPP Honorary President, allowed him to speak as long as he wanted to. It was not fair, but not surprised too;
- The rhetoric and language used were bad as a Prime Minister or a public figure. However, he is well-known for his feisty style;
- His behavior is bad role model for young people and the Cambodian society etc.
What happened afterwards is expected. We are bothered to hear and see “so-called petitions” from all corners including Ministers; government’s high ranking officials, this Excellency, that Excellency etc, in the mass media supporting his speech. I remember my time, when I studied in East-Germany in the eighties. After a speech of Erich Honecker, Secretary General of the (East) German Communist Party (SED), people need to learn by heart what was said. I was amused to hear that the Governor of Phnom Penh municipality claimed that all 2 million people living in Phnom Penh support the above mentioned speech. I am living in Phnom Penh, but not so sure if I support his speech. Parts of the speech are maybe true, but most parts are just attacking the opposition and he tried to gain popular support in his border deal. A good parliament should have real debate, because Cambodia does not belong to the CPP or PM, it belongs to all Cambodians. We heard only one part of the stories.
However, it was good that he took some time to come to the Parliament. It is announced that his speech will become CD or Book; congratulation! But, may be people should not record all the (abusing) words spoken, which is bad for society. I have posted two articles relating to border issues on 19 and 27 June, 2010, on this blog.