spean tau village, Kompong Speu province – Residents here said Thursday that they have no idea what party will get the most votes from this village because they don’t tell each other what candidate they support.
“Even if people belong to a political party, they do not tell anyone,” 43-year-old Chuan Leang said. “We have to hide it because we fear for our safety.”
Other residents of this quiet village that lies along a bumpy, red dirt road some 50 km southeast of Phnom Penh said they couldn’t predict which of the 32 parties running for the six seats in this mountainous province would fare well.
One Spean Tau villager said when it comes to politics, he and his neighbors have “learned” to keep secrets living under a commmunist regime.
Spean Tau villagers effectively have lived under the rule of CPP loyalists for 19 years. On Thursday, the CPP’s communal office sign was posted outside the same wooden shack that the local government administration sign was posted. CPP and communal officials are one and the same in Spean Tau, villagers said.
Ten km away in Kim Nop village, Sang Chue said most people fear party affiliation being reported to the local CPP-led government. Thus, they keep it a secret, even from their kin, he said.
“Of course people don’t like the CPP, but we can’t say it because we are living under them,” he said.
Ung Sim, the Funcinpec second deputy governor here and a candidate for National Assembly, attributed people’s secrecy to quiet, local-level intimidation.
“The people will not tell you [which party they belong to] because when you leave the area, they will be in trouble with local CPP-appointed officials,” Ung Sim said Thursday in an interview at Funcinpec’s provincial office in Kompong Speu town.
Prum Kim Thai, the chief of the provincial election commission, attributed people’s secrecy to indecision, using himself as an example. He denies any party membership and said when the time comes to vote, then he will decide.