|Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures while delivering a speech in Phnom Penh last year. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post|
PM sure of numbers game
02 May 2013
By Meas Sokchea
The Phnom Penh Post
“His statement is recognition that maybe his party will have less support than before – though of course not lose completely”
Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said he was strongly optimistic about the CPP’s showing come July and called claims that the party might dip below two-thirds of the seats unfounded.
“I don’t believe that they can win, although they have tried to shout that,” Hun Sen said. “And I don’t believe that more than two-thirds of the seats could drop down below 50-plus-one.”
Speaking to workers during an International Labour Day celebration in Preah Sihanouk, the premier stressed that the opposition would have little chance of gaining sufficient seats to make an impact in parliament.
Combined, the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties now hold 29 seats at the National Assembly. Prior to 2008 – when the constitution was amended during a government deadlock – one-third of the parliament’s 123 seats could block legislation or governments. Now, however, would the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party wish to do so, they must hold 50 per cent plus one.
That possibility, assured Hun Sen, was remote. “I am not worried about this problem,” he said. “[The CPP] increased from 51 [seats] to 64, from 64 to 73, from 73 to 90. Therefore, if it fell down to 40 seats; it is not right.” (sic!)
Invoking Preah Sihanouk’s namesake, Hun Sen warned the coastal province that the achievements of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk would be dashed should another party take the helm.
He also took advantage of the day to remind workers of his role in brokering an increase in the minimum wage – which this month will be bumped from $61 to $80 a month.
“I understand people’s hearts still support and vote for the CPP,” he said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the reference to holding 50-plus-one suggested the party expects a tough election.
“His statement is recognition that maybe his party will have less support than before – though of course not lose completely,” he said.
Toward the end of yesterday’s speech, Hun Sen took the opportunity to remind voters of how fearless his party had been in standing up for the truth.
“Some politicians only dare to condemn April 17, 1975, but they do not dare to condemn the March 18, 1970, coup,” he said.
“If we are politicians who dare to be responsible for the reality of history, we must dare to receive reality both wrong and right and we must dare to condemn allies. But they do not dare [condemn] invaders of Cambodia in 1970 because [those invaders] are their current boss. They consider them their teachers, their parents,” said Hun Sen.
“Do they dare condemn the United States . . . bombing to destroy Cambodia?”
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