Capital Residents Weary of Political Bickering

Kun Theavy says he wants a new government formed as soon as possible.

“Now both government em­ployees and businessmen are having difficulties,” the government official said Tuesday while waiting to take an English lesson.

“No aid, no UN seat will just bring difficulties leading to anarchy,” he predicted. “I think the three parties should compromise…. I think they should think about the national benefit more than their parties’ benefit.”

Kun Theavy’s comments sum­med up what many are thinking these days in Phnom Penh, as they see the political deadlock be­tween the CPP and the opposition Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy parties drag on and on. Enough already, they say.

In a style reminiscent of West­ern democracies, the parties agreed to broadcast their two-and-a-half-hour working session Monday on the national television station TVK, but most of the 15 Phnom Penh residents polled Tuesday said they didn’t bother to watch.

“I think people are tired of hearing the same thing,” said Kao Kim Hourn, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Co­operation and Peace. “They’re reacting by turning off the television and listening to music in­stead. Or watching cable television. They’re tired of the nonstop political bickering. They don’t think the parties are serious about the well-being of the people.”

The few who did watch offered their impressions, their assessments and even their suggestions for breaking the stalemate.

Veng Mei, a vendor at O’Russei market near Olympic Stadium, came away from the TV thinking that the election issues should be discussed by the new National Assembly, and that the parties should get on with the task of forming the coalition.

“The country needs the formation of the new government,” Veng Mei said. “They should start it soon….I want the new government to get aid and the UN seat and international acceptance.”

Hak Bun Thet, a student at Baktok High School near Olym­pic Stadium, said he doesn’t mind a rehash of the election issues and he thought that Monday was a positive meeting even if it didn’t resolve anything.

But “to avoid a deadlock,” the main political leaders—such as Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, Funcinpec President Prince No­rodom Rana­riddh and opposition leader Sam Rainsy—should participate, he said.

He said Hok Lundy, the national police director-general, should be invited to participate.

Asked why, Hak Bun Thet responds, “Because he is strong. His ideas might lead to decisions.”

San Samnang, a resident of O’Russei II commune, said it’s clear that questions about the election irregularities and the controversy over the seat-allocation formula have caused the deadlock. But he agreed with the opposition that those issues should be resolved before the parties move on to decide Assem­bly posts and coalition structure.

He also said the stalemate is being prolonged by the fact the main leaders of each party are not taking part in the sessions.

Sim Manet, who didn’t wish his occupation to be stated, said: “None of the parties have any intention to compromise, and the opposition repeatedly is raising election issues and the seat-allocation formula. Their de­mands mean the pledge in Siem Reap [to move forward] is nonsense.”

Kao Kim Hourn, meanwhile, agreed that the negotiating process simply isn’t moving fast enough.

It helps, he said, for the King to remain in the country, but breaking the deadlock will take compromise by all sides. And for the result to be truly democratic, he added, the new coalition will have to include some meaningful power-sharing.


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