banteay meas district, Kampot province – Ieng Mouly, leader of the Buddhist Liberal Party, brought his campaign machine to Kampot province Thursday, stressing that people should not be intimidated by “the ruling party,” a reference to the CPP.
He said even if people had sworn to vote for the CPP, or had received gifts of monosodium glutamate or clothing from the party, they could still vote for the Buddhist Liberal Party.
“Please don’t be afraid,” he said, “because a vote for the BLP is like offering a lotus to the Buddha. It will overpower any jinx.”
“In areas where there is more intimidation, I will do better,” said the nation’s Information Minister, “because people know we are different.”
But just how different is unclear, because the Buddhist Liberal Party is officially allied with the CPP.
Warning voters about the intimidation of “the ruling party” may seem strange coming from the BLP, but Ieng Mouly stressed he is just being pragmatic. “When we are in the government it is best for us to have a good relationship with [the CPP],” he said “You have to make friends.”
Visiting a commune meeting in Angkor Chey district and a pagoda in Banteay Meas district, he stumped for the six BLP campaigners in Kampot, though realistically he hopes to gain only one seat.
In Banteay Meas, about 300 people gathered in and around the pagoda to hear Ieng Mouly’s three-point platform of peace, rule of law, and development. Before the speech, he and three provincial candidates received a blessing from the head monk.
He said he is squeezed on one side by the CPP, which is expected to win big in the countryside, and on the other by opposition parties who call him a pawn of the CPP.
But some appreciate the pragmatism and peaceful tone of the BLP. Sixty-year-old Ros Sameth said he believes “the party will resolve problems peacefully by carrying out Buddhist principles.”
Although Ieng Mouly said people are not familiar with the multi-party system and they “don’t feel free to vote for anyone other than the ruling party,” he still “believes in the system.”
“In emerging democracies, you never have a perfect election,” he said.