People Are Afraid, Want Resolution, Peace

Instead of uproarious protests, the past seven months of political deadlock have wrought a tense calm as many people want only peace but fear ramifications if they speak out, Phnom Penh residents said Sunday.

“All the people are frustrated and worried,” Nou Roeun, 60, said Sunday. “They think about their business, but they always think some about politics.”

The current political deadlock has dragged on three months longer than the 1998 post-election deadlock.

Nou Roeun, a tailor, said she doesn’t care about parties or leaders. Rather, she cares about safety and she worries that the violence and protests that plagued the 1998 deadlock could take place again.

Motorbike taxi driver Heng So­th­ea, 30, said he doesn’t expect dem­­onstrations because the government, in the last year, has re­peatedly acted to squelch protests.

“Previously when we came out to hold demonstrations, they used elec­tric batons to shock us and they use sticks to hit us,” he said.

He said he supported a three party government, and saw strength in a Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec merger. “If Funcin­pec splits [from the Sam Rainsy Party], we will have difficulty. We will not be united,” he said.

Royalist party officials have said their next move hinges on the decision of Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Prince Norodom Sirivudh, Fun­cin­pec secretary general, said Sunday Prince Ranariddh will re­turn to Cambodia Wednesday.

Construction worker Som Ket, 31, said if Funcinpec folds, even partly into the CPP, it would weaken the Alliance of Democrats.

“I don’t want to see that happen be­cause we want real democracy,” he said. “No Sam Rainsy, no democracy.”

Chem Chanthy, a 48-year-old book seller at Phsar Chas, said she wants Hun Sen to remain prime minister because he has brought peace and stability.

“It’s better than living in Pol Pot’s time because now we can have business,” she said, adding that she believed the problem of corruption in society is not so bad.

But taxi driver Suon Setiya, 35, said he’s afraid to speak of politics.

“People want to express opinions,” he said. But, “the more we talk, the more dangerous it is.”

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