Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday took issue with political parties campaigning under the promise of developing the country in the same manner as the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era of the 1950s and 1960s, calling such a platform “cheating and extreme.”
Sangkum Reastr Niyum refers to the period before the 1970s when the country was headed by then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The era, a relative golden age for Cambodia, is a common reference point by Funcinpec and the NRP.
“Some people are campaigning that they would do the same as the Sangkum Reastr Niyum,” Hun Sen said during a groundbreaking ceremony for National Road 3 in Kampot.
“To do [things] like the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, we must destroy” current achievements, Hun Sen said.
“We have accepted the vision of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, but the information technology is different—that was the time of the telegraph and now it is the time of the mobile phone,” he said.
“I want to protect the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, and let it die peacefully…. We just take the vision of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, but we cannot do the same thing,” the prime minister said.
Funcinpec Second Deputy President Sisowath Sirirath said that despite the prime minister’s comments, his party had every intention of following in the footsteps of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum. “Sangkum Reastr Niyum means no corruption, no illegal logging, no people facing starvation, no people having land disputes. It has nothing to do with technology,” he said.
“We must be reminded of the history of the retired King—we must show gratitude to the retired King,” the prince said.
NRP spokesman Muth Channtha said that the prime minister’s remarks were aimed at diminishing the country’s past achievements.
He added that it was strange for the prime minister’s ruling CPP to be unwilling to repeat the successful agriculture and irrigation policies of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum.
“The CPP is using Pol Pot-dug irrigation,” Muth Channtha said. “If we allow Hun Sen to lead for another 20 years, people will still be poor.”