Parties Stock Up on Campaign Shirts, Hats

The three major political parties have recently completed preliminary plans for the 30-day campaign period for the upcoming national elections, officials from each party said last week.

Although the National Election Committee is not scheduled to finalize regulations on campaigning until after the Khmer New Year, officials from each major political party said that much of the campaigning will center on spreading information to potential voters and providing material incentives, such as shirts, to their constituents.

“We will inform the voters that Funcinpec will continue to develop the royalist party and the party will solve the voters’ difficulties that other parties haven’t solved,” Funcinpec deputy Secretary-General Serey Kosal said Thursday.

Funcinpec is planning to spend up to $80,000 in the larger provinces during the 30-day campaign period and has already printed T-shirts and hats that it intends to distribute to voters. Serey Kosal, however, added that Funcinpec will not offer bribes to voters.

“We don’t offer gifts to voters but we will offer them true information—the information that will offer voters better ideas on how to choose their leader,” Serey Kosal said. “Although Funcinpec was destroyed by the CPP and the Sam Rainsy Party [in previous elections], I am confident that we will win over the other two parties in the general elections.”

Like Funcinpec, the Sam Rainsy Party has also prepared shirts, hats and banners with the Sam Rainsy Party logo on them, opposition party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said. The Sam Rainsy Party is also setting up campaign vehicles that will broadcast Sam Rainsy’s speeches in the provinces, he said.

But beyond that, the Sam Rainsy Party is also beginning to mobilize opposition party members at the commune, district and provincial levels, and will, at some time in the future, march across the country in a major campaign push, he said, adding that the Sam Rainsy Party will spend about $30,000 in the large provinces.

“In 1998, many voters didn’t know the party, but through the last five years the party has served the voters—now more voters know the party,” he said.

Still, there are factors that are working against the opposition party, he said.

The NEC, through the Min­istry of Information, ordered TVK to provide news coverage for all political parties for 45 days prior to Election Day, but Eng Chhay Eang said he is not confident that TVK will broadcast Sam Rainsy’s face or speeches.

He suggested instead that the various political parties be allowed to produce their own campaign spots to be broadcast by TVK.

The CPP, meanwhile, is not preparing quite as much as the other political parties for the 30-day campaign period, said Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Information and spokesman for the CPP.

“We have already built many schools, bridges and wells throughout the country—we don’t need to use 30 days to convince voters to vote for us,” Khieu Kanharith said Sunday.

The CPP will distribute some gifts, such as shirts, to voters, but the party is relying more on its achievements to win votes, Khieu Kanharith said, adding that he didn’t know how much money the CPP will spend during the campaign period.

“The party members always visit voters weekly and we have built many achievements so far,” Khieu Kanharith said. “Voters are not stupid and will not vote for political parties who use only 30 days [to conduct a campaign].”

The CPP is scheduled to hold its annual two-day congress on April 24 and April 25. Party members will discuss strategy for the election, Khieu Kanharith said.

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