Reastr Niyum is countering its relatively obscure status and localized intimidation with arguably the most vigorous and visible printed paper propaganda campaign in Cambodia, a party official said Thursday.
“The key word is existence. We have to let the people know that we exist,” spokesman and Siem Reap candidate Pou Sovachana said. “For the last four months, it seems that we haven’t existed.”
The party was created Feb 1 out of prominent former Funcinpec officials, many of whom hold top government jobs.
Pou Sovachana said Reastr Niyum has sought to counter National Election Committee-decreed media restrictions with tireless house-to-house campaigning and a heavy reliance on propaganda, like T-shirts and posters.
“We let the people complain, because even if we complain I don’t think we are going to get the five minutes increased,” the undersecretary of state for Tourism said.
National Election Committee rules have limited political parties to five minutes of air time a day on both state-run television and radio during campaigning.
The Reastr Niyum campaign in Siem Reap province also is meeting with widespread intimidation of its party workers, Pou Sovachana said. One incident came from the boss of a Reastr Niyum member who is a school teacher. She was told not to campaign with Reastr Niyum after a high-profile Buddhist ceremony at the former Khmer Rouge outpost of Phnom Kulen, he said.
“There’s so many incidents like this happening everywhere in Siem Reap every day,” he said.
He said the intimidation is coming from members of “the main party,” or the CPP, who hold positions in the civilian administration. “It’s pure intimidation because…I am here, giving people another option of who to vote for,” Pou Sovachana said. “The people are very scared to wear my T-shirts right now.”