The CPP’s secretary-general has ordered ruling party officials to follow opposition CNRP officials to report on when they use words such as “Vietnamese puppet” or “dictatorial communist” to describe CPP leaders, insults he says harm the present political detente.
CPP Secretary-General Say Chhum was assigned by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday to monitor any inflammatory political language coming from the CNRP after the prime minister last month attacked deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha for describing the government as “communist.”
In a letter Tuesday, Mr. Chhum ordered that CPP officials be dispatched to ensure the CNRP is complying with the so-called “culture of dialogue” being championed by opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Mr. Hun Sen.
“Following the current state of affairs, in which both parties (the CPP and CNRP) have been encouraging the implementation of the culture of dialogue…there are still some CNRP leaders, especially Kem Sokha, who continue to attack and insult the party and CPP leaders at forums in a rude way, and in opposition to the culture of dialogue, which the CPP cannot accept,” Mr. Chhum wrote.
“Furthermore, Prime Minister Hun Sen has clarified further…that the culture of dialogue requires mutual respect and honesty, and no insulting or threats, and [requires the parties] to value each other as well,” the letter says.
“Based on this, the central committee asks the heads of the provincial and municipal party councils to assign our officials to follow, listen and take clear notes of the abuse done by continuing the insults and attacks on the party and on the leaders of the CPP.”
Mr. Chhum asked officials to note, in particular, “the use of the words ‘Vietnamese head with a Cambodian body,’ ‘dictatorial communist,’ ‘Vietnamese puppet,’ ‘national traitor,’ ‘person who sells their nation,’ ‘the leader of the thieves,’ and any other such insulting language.”
CPP spokesman Sok Ey San said Wednesday that Mr. Chhum’s letter was an attempt to keep the opposition in line after Mr. Sokha’s public attacks on the ruling party last month.
“Obviously, in terms of implementation so far, the CPP from its upper to lower level has implemented it very well, but the partner party has not been so good,” Mr. Ey San said. “The leader has spoken well, but the deputy and a number of lower-level officials have spoken poorly and not implemented the culture of dialogue properly.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he was not concerned about the CPP ordering officials to monitor the opposition if it improves the new culture of dialogue.
“We support any initiative that promotes the culture of dialogue from all levels, from the national level to the grassroots level, and we have already discussed among the CNRP leaders to draft a code of conduct and ethics to support the culture of dialogue,” he said.
Mr. Sovann added that the CNRP had already committed to ending its use of the word “Yuon,” a term for Vietnamese that can be derogatory and which the opposition has long used to attack Mr. Hun Sen and the CPP when accusing them of being puppets of Hanoi.
“That word we have dropped already, we do not want to say it,” Mr. Sovann said. “We also do not want to use any violent words or scolding words—or any bad words that are not a good example for the Cambodian people and the young generation.”
In a speech in March, Mr. Hun Sen threatened to unleash the military on Mr. Sokha or have him jailed, and has also repeatedly threatened to remove him from his position as vice president of the National Assembly.
Yet Mr. Sovann said Wednesday he was not concerned that the CPP might be abusing the “culture of dialogue” to railroad the opposition into meekness.
May Din, a CNRP member who serves as deputy chief of Ratanakkiri province’s Laban Siek commune, said however that he was concerned Mr. Chhum’s orders could lead to the lower levels of the CNRP effectively being silenced.
“For those who insult other parties, that is an individual matter and not a party position,” he said. “When something goes wrong, we criticize [the CPP], and I hope this criticism will not be interpreted as an insult.”
However, Lao Bunnin, a CPP member who serves as chief of Kratie province’s Chhlong commune, said he supported Mr. Chhum’s call and would actively work to compile reports of CNRP intransigence.
“I have noticed there are plenty of CNRP officials and members who keep insulting CPP leaders through social media and networks such as Facebook,” he said.
“I will of course assign my officials to monitor those who are the worst in using insults against our leaders on Facebook and compile a report for the upper levels.”