A deafening techno song blasted from speakers in Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum park on Friday where a crowd of CPP youth gyrated to the lyrics: “If you love, if you have compassion for, if you trust Samdech Hun Sen, please vote for the CPP.”
“There’s Samdech Hun Sen, there’s development, real prosperity, and growth every day,” the song continued to the rapid beats of synthesized drums and bass.
“Number four!” the dancers chanted in unison referencing the CPP’s place on the July 28 ballot paper; some waving flags in wild abandon goaded on by youth leaders with megaphones. “We love the CPP! We love Hun Sen!” the young, well-dressed dancers chanted in the mid-morning heat.
If Thursday’s enormous CPP election convoy in Phnom Penh did anything, it reminded voters of the ruling party’s seemingly bottomless campaign finances, its popularity and the CPP leadership’s penchant for glimmering, air-conditioned luxury vehicles.
On Friday, it was the turn of the ruling party’s youth activists, hundreds of whom had been trucked in from universities in the city to put a more contemporary spin on the election campaign.
Taking a break from dancing, Sean Chivin, a 20-year-old Sociology sophomore at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), sat under the shade of a large marquee erected for the young revelers.
“If the CPP wins, it will benefit all of us because if they win, Cambodia will be stable. Investors will come, and it will be good for my future business. I want to become a businessman,” Mr. Chivin said. “I would love to run an airline or [air] carrier company to transport goods. The taxes will go to the government, and it will help create jobs for Cambodians,” he added.
Losing is not an option for the CPP—or the public, Mr. Chivin added. “Based on my assumption, if the CPP loses, there will be chaos. Why? Because 90 percent of the people support the CPP. They will not agree to accept [defeat], and they will protest because the CPP has developed and rescued the country from war and poverty.
“It’s just like in Thailand. When people loved one party and then that party didn’t win, there was protest. What we love, we don’t want to lose,” he said.
Mr. Chivin said he was one of about 350 students from RUPP who came to lend their support in disseminating the ruling party’s message about the abundance of jobs currently available and the solid economic policies of the government. Mr. Chivin declined to say in what field his parents were employed.
Phourn Sophan, a 22-year-old Animal Science sophomore at the Royal University of Agriculture, had more modest dreams for his future.
“I would love to own my own animal farm to raise cows,” he said, adding that he attended Friday’s rally because his friends asked him to.
“Lunch, transportation and everything is paid for. Perhaps, when we get back to school, we might get some money,” he added.
Khlauk Manita, a banking freshman at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said she dreamed of being a bank teller upon graduation, and lending support to the rally was part of ensuring that future.
“I am from Phnom Penh, and I come here today because I love the CPP,” Ms. Manita said before she was cut off mid-sentence by one of the youth leaders on duty at the rally.
“Because this is the campaign period, it’s not appropriate for you to give interviews,” the leader, who did not identify himself, told Ms. Manita, who dutifully complied.
A second RUPP student also declined to speak with a reporter after one of the group leaders did not give permission.
After a lunchtime lull, the ranks of the CPP youth activists were bolstered as more supporters wearing CPP hats and shirts were trucked in and swarmed en masse to the front of the park. CPP flags, tied to ornate chrome poles, whipped in the breeze, voices and amplified music filled the air and, from the looks on the young faces, the promises of the CPP, and the possibilities, seemed limitless.