Book Gives ‘Spiritual’ Advice to CPP’s Faithful

With national elections fast approaching, the ruling CPP has distributed an 80-page handbook to officials at all levels of government to advise them on how to campaign and defeat the opposition.

In a little blue A5 paperback entitled “Spiritual Guidance for CPP Officials to Use During the Campaign to Fight Against the Opposition Parties’ Campaign” and printed in April, the ruling party describes in detail the achievements of the government that should be played up by officials on the campaign trail.

“The guidance is made to give all sides of the story to the CPP officials as a means to explain to the people and to do campaigning against the opposition party, which usually exaggerates facts and hyperbolizes negative and inactive issues that have happened in Cambodia as an attempt to cover up the enormous achieve­ment that the CPP…has accomplished,” says a copy of the book obtained last week.

“This document is something campaigners can use to cook, adding ingredients by themselves to fit the situation and reality in order to fully inform the Cambodian people, and also as the means to fight the opposition party with high efficiency,” it states.

The main arguments the book tells officials to use when campaigning for the CPP include the party’s role in bringing peace to Cambodia, signing the Paris Peace Agreements in 1991 and building up the country’s infrastructure. It also tells officials to inform the electorate about the strong position of the government on contested land with Thailand.

Most importantly, the book says, campaigners must harness Prime Minister Hun Sen’s popular image, and remind voters of all the land titles that have been issued to villagers.

“The most important political message campaigners must raise to the people for the coming elections on July 28, 2013, is: If you love, sympathize with, adore and trust Prime Minister Hun Sen, please vote for the Cambodian People’s Party,” it says.

As in previous polls, the CPP holds a major advantage over the opposition in its large number of loyal campaigners at local levels. Seeking to capitalize on this re­source, the book—written in plain, easily comprehensible Khmer—has been distributed to CPP officials at all levels.

“The CPP is the only party that released the people from the Pol Pot genocide,” the book tells officials to remind the electorate.

“The government’s management has led to macroeconomic prosperity, with [gross domestic product] increasing 6 or 7 percent per year,” it adds.

Campaigners should also point out that opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) supporters were caught up in the case of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF), a group that staged a failed coup d’etat in 2000, the book says.

“They should remember that some people from the opposition party participated with [CFF leader] Chhun Yasith’s group to commit terrorism in 2000 and later the court convicted them to jail,” it says.

The book goes on to describe that all officials should question both the policies and the name of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), an opposition coalition formed in a merger last year between the SRP and the Human Rights Party.

“We don’t know what they will rescue the country from, since the Cambodian people are experiencing peace and development in all sectors and increases in their livelihood constantly,” it says.

“The implementation of the opposition policy to force the minimum wage for garment workers up to $150 per month would make factories, especially garment factories, close down,” it adds.

Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said a similar book—which is produced by CPP headquarters—was issued for all previous elections, but the contents are re­assessed for each mandate by the party’s national congress.

“The books are sent out to all the leaders—at the village, commune, district or provincial level, and the ministers,” Mr. Yeap said. “We have to have a precise policy.”

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said no matter what kind of tactics the CPP used, the CNRP would be victorious.

“The things they raise during the campaign will be useless. They will have no impact or influence on the CNRP,” he said.

However, independent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the book was part of a wider information assault that meant the CPP was well placed to win the election.

“All the media is controlled by the ruling party. They can use it 365 days a year to talk about the party’s work,” he said.

“It’s like a sports team. The one that is well prepared will do better.”

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