In Pailin, One-Time Enemies Now CPP Allies Pailin

Preliminary election results from the National Election Com­mittee on Wednesday showed that the CPP has won the support of Pailin—stronghold of its former enemy the Khmer Rouge—and will send the town’s current governor and former Pol Pot bodyguard, Y Chhien, to the National Assembly.

The Khmer Rouge formed the bulk of a nationalistic resistance that battled the Vietnamese-installed CPP from 1975 until late 1998.

A local farmer and chicken seller said Tuesday by telephone that she had abandoned the Sam Rainsy Party, which held the last parliamentary mandate from Pailin, this Election Day.

“I vote for the [CPP] so they can construct roads and provide water for farming,” said the wo­man, who asked not to be named out of fear for her safety. “I will change my vote in the future if the party I vote for does nothing for the people.”

Pol Leang, a CPP member and a former Khmer Rouge commander, said Tuesday that the enmity between the CPP and the Khmer Rouge had resulted from meddling by foreign governments.

“We vote according to which party we like, and now Khmer and Khmer love each other. Be­fore we were split by foreigners, the foreigners that make the Khmer and Khmer division,” he said.

“The Sam Rainsy parliamentarians did not work for the people in Pailin. That is why people change to the CPP,” Pol Leang said.

“They do not come to see the people and talk to the people and try to help the people. They just keep quiet in Phnom Penh,” he added.

The Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker elected by Pailin in 1998, Sun Kim Hun, defected to Funcinpec in April. Sam Rainsy called the selection of Sun Kim Hun as candidate a mistake when he presented the opposition’s new candidate—Ven Dara, the niece of former Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok—to the municipality’s voters in June.

Ven Dara rejected the preliminary results on Wednesday, saying that Pailin’s elections were marred by intimidation.

“The CPP local author­it­ies…threatened the Sam Rainsy [Party] members. They said ‘If you vote for the Sam Rainsy Party, war will happen. If you vote for the CPP, no war,’” she said. “This threat makes the people in Pailin fearful, because Pailin people have had too much war.”

Ven Dara said the opposition party would ask for a second election in Pailin.

Em Nhoung, a former Khmer Rouge commander and a Sam Rainsy Party supporter, said that much of Pailin’s electorate just voted as their former military leaders instructed—a complaint identical to ones made about rural village chiefs who allegedly ensure CPP votes.

“They are easily swayed by the [former Khmer Rouge] leader, because they do not understand. They have no knowledge,” he said.

 

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