kampot town – So far this electoral campaign, complaints filed with provincial election committees in Kep municipality and Kampot province have mainly been the Sam Rainsy Party protesting the distribution of raincoats with the CPP logo.
This does not mean that intimidation is not taking place—on the contrary. People are afraid to report intimidation cases, said a Funcinpec representative who wished to remain anonymous.
Military police and police officers have been coming into villages after opposition party visits to investigate what was discussed, said Vong Kim Han, Sam Rainsy Party candidate in Kep.
People are told that, unless they vote CPP, the police cannot guarantee their safety, he said.
Actually coercion never ceases. When the palm-leaf roof of her house collapsed during a storm last December, Ou Vann tried to get help from the Cambodian Red Cross, which had sent emergency supplies to Kep.
But Ou Vann and her husband are Funcinpec supporters. They ended up with nothing when the CPP commune chief made the distribution, she said.
Country wisdom has it that a neighborhood must vote CPP in order to get development.
In Kampot province, motorcycles can barely make it to Kandaol commune. This is a Sam Rainsy Party commune, says Meng Rita, an opposition party candidate in Kampot province. Only oxcarts can safely ride through the mud and water puddles 50 centimeters deep.
Last week, a prominent Sam Rainsy Party member from that commune was jailed for gun possession.
Both In Chiva, the Kampot deputy police commissioner and a Funcinpec member, and Chan Saveth, a representative of the Human Rights Action Committee, agree that the arrest of Nuon Siep, also called Khieu Phen Man, was handled according to legal procedures.
His son-in-law Nget Mao also was jailed for possession of a grenade.
Already this has had an effect—some people in the commune said they now are afraid of voting against the CPP.
“Had Nuon Siep been a CPP, he could have owned 10 guns and would never have been arrested,” Meng Rita said.
More than elections may have prompted this, said Try Chhuon, Adhoc representative in Kampot. Last year, working with Adhoc and with the support of Kampot Governor Puth Chandarith—a Funcinpec member—Nuon Siep stopped police authorities from seizing the land of 300 families, she said.
Still, there has been no violent incident during the campaign, and less tension than during past electoral campaigns, said a provincial election committee spokesman.
No matter their party allegiance, farmers, fishermen and market sellers all wish for the same things—better roads, free and accessible health care and more business activities in the area.
Man Min’s wish is even simpler. “I want peace—no more war,” said the fisherman from Kampot province.