CNRP Leaders Hammer Out Party Platform

Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha led a delegation from the CNRP over the weekend in a seminar organized by a pair of German think tanks that have been helping the party develop a coherent political platform.

Since its dramatic rise to prominence at the July 2013 election, which came only a year after the party was formed in a merger, the CNRP has been criticized for relying on a narrow set of policies aimed mostly at the ruling CPP’s unpopularity.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann, left, and CNRP public affairs director Mu Sochua speak to reporters in Phnom Penh on Sunday at the close of a conference on the development of the opposition party's political platform. (Alex Willemyns/The Cambodia Daily)
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann, left, and CNRP public affairs director Mu Sochua speak to reporters in Phnom Penh on Sunday at the close of a conference on the development of the opposition party’s political platform. (Alex Willemyns/The Cambodia Daily)

Led by the Konrad-Adenaur-Stiftung, an arm of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrat Union, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, an arm of the Free Democratic Party, the CNRP has since late last year been working to expand its platform, and at the seminar on the weekend released its initial results.

“We are studying all the economic and social concepts of liberalism as well as centrism,” said CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann at Phnom Penh’s Raffles Hotel Le Royal, where an abridged draft of the CNRP’s future platform was discussed.

Mr. Sovann explained that the opposition party was taking a nonideological approach to developing its platform.

“We cannot say we are left or right or we are centrist. In the Cambodian context, we study and collect all the points and policies that are suitable for Cambodia,” Mr. Sovann said.

CNRP public affairs director Mu Sochua said the party would release its finished platform in three months and said its focus was more on identifying values than political ideology.

“We very much for the last few days talked about core values, not whether you are left or right. It is not relevant to Cambodia,” Ms. Sochua said. “What is most relevant to Cambodia is core values, and we have those core values, which are dignity, equality, solidarity, justice and cultural dialogue.”

Despite the reticence to speak about ideology, however, a page of the CNRP’s draft platform titled “Understanding the Individual,” circulated during the seminar, reveals an inclination toward ideals from the Western Enlightenment.

“The fruits of an individual’s labour—their property—must be respected and protected. The quest for achievement is an innate drive and without personal achievement no society can flourish and create wealth,” the document says.

Mr. Rainsy, the opposition leader, said it was wrong to say his party has in the past relied only on criticizing abuses by the CPP and has not developed its own holistic platform.

“No, we have,” he said. “But this time it is in a more conventional way. We are getting ideas from liberal humanist resources that we can adapt to the Cambodian context.”

willemyns@cambodiadaily.com, reaksmey@cambodiadaily.com

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