Taking their most conciliatory tone toward the ruling CPP since the disputed July 2013 national election, opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha over the weekend toured the eastern provinces of Kompong Cham, Kratie and Tbong Khmum to call on their supporters to show restraint in their opposition to the CPP.
After the opposition’s tour of the central and northwestern provinces between Kompong Chhnang and Banteay Meanchey last month, during which Mr. Sokha described the CPP as “communist,” Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to shut down the so-called “culture of dialogue” between the parties.
Mr. Rainsy said Wednesday that he had met with Mr. Sokha and convinced him to tone down his attacks to preserve the new political culture, and on Friday in Kompong Cham brought the same message to his party’s supporters.
“Struggle with quietness and dignity, and peace and respect for each other, and without cursing each other or threatening; we struggle the cool way—the dignified and mature way, not like children who attack each other,” Mr. Rainsy said.
“For the CPP, we need to compete in a competitive way, but a competitive partner is not an enemy partner,” Mr. Rainsy continued. “The CNRP does not place any Khmer as the enemy, but just places them as our competitive partner.
“For example, [consider] a boxing match. When they finish the match, they shake hands with each other,” he said.
In his own speech at the event, Mr. Sokha also toned down his rhetoric, offering supporters instructions on leadership.
“Leaders must have love, not discriminate, and love all people and, secondly, must have pity, including for the poor, the small people and devastated people,” he said. “Buddhism says, please, all of us, do not take revenge against each other. And if we stick to that, we will win.
“We need to clarify that we will not take revenge in order not to make [our opponents] scared,” Mr. Sokha said.
Mr. Rainsy, speaking at a separate forum in Kompong Cham on Saturday, said that both his own and Mr. Sokha’s toning down of their attacks against the CPP are for the best.
“We used to attack each other and there was bloodshed all over the streets; the shooting and killing of workers on Veng Sreng [Street]. Brothers and sisters, do you want to see this again?” Mr. Rainsy asked the crowd.
“Do you want demonstrations, and arrests, and to be put behind prison bars? No, brothers and sisters. So we stick to the culture of dialogue, and that is the correct thing.”
CPP spokesman Chhim Phal Virun, who complained about Mr. Sokha’s speech last month, said Sunday he was still not happy with the deputy opposition leader’s rhetoric.
“He is a politician and he is not a preacher who teaches Buddhism,” Mr. Phal Virun said. “He should take this and teach it to himself, and should not talk about it, because it is useless and even a child could talk about this.
“He should educate himself rather than others.”