Citizenry Cautious In Praise for Deal

Phnom Penh residents Thurs­day lauded the progress made in the past week toward forming a new coalition government. But they cautioned that even if negotiations succeed, the new government still could fail if leaders think about power, rather than people.

“The time is ripe for the leaders to work for the real interest of the country,” said Lay, a customer-service employee for a motorcycle shop.

Eight people interviewed said they support the framework ag­reed upon by the parties, saying that it is an opportunity at last to bring Cambodia peace and prosperity.

“I think that everything will be all right if our leaders trust each other and work for the people,” said Sok Reth, a 30-year-old motorcycle taxi driver.

Sok Reth, who was enjoying  the cool shade of a tree in Wat Botum park, added that the formation of an internationally recognized government has the potential to bring in investment [JUMP HEAD: Cautious] and tourism.

But he worried that the political parties might slip back to their old ways of fighting for power.

“If the leaders are yearning only for power, the government will fracture the same as the old one did,” he warned.

Yos Tha, a 41-year-old motorcycle repairman in Tuol Kok district, also worried about that possibility.

But, echoing the sentiment of others, Yos Tha said, “The government will not collapse if the leaders work for the interest of the people, and not for power.”

A rift between the CPP and Funcinpec over power sharing in the last coalition government widened and finally erupted in the bloody factional fighting of July 1997. The two parties—which were on opposite sides of the civil war during the 1980s—are still trying to heal many old wounds.

A months-long, post-election stalemate was broken last week when King Norodom Sihanouk hosted a summit between the CPP and Funcinpec before he left for a medical checkup in Beijing.

Cambodia is hoping that a new government will enable the government to regain its seat at the UN, which was left vacant after the July 1997 fighting. Membership into the regional grouping Asean also is at stake, as well as millions of dollars of foreign aid.

Not all of the people interviewed Thursday said they care about political issues and agreements.

Phally, who works for a local advertising company, said he has not paid much attention to the present political situation because it is too complicated.

“If we care much about political situation and just wait for it to get better, then we would not make any money,” he said.


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