With election day less than a week away, political parties are using every last hour to rally supporters. SRP President Sam Rainsy hit the campaign trail hard Monday during a six-hour trip through Kandal province.
7:50 am: Three spotless SUVs pulled out of SRP headquarters in Phnom Penh to meet about 300 people wearing SRP-logo caps and shirts, all stacked two or three deep on flag-laden motorbikes.
As the SRP group slowly drove south, many scurried to watch. Tim Sotr was nearly brought to tears at the sight of Sam Rainsy.
“I heard about the story of his life and his father,” she said.
9:39 am: SRP flags and posters were plastered everywhere at Ta Cho village in Lvea Em district’s Sarikakeo commune. There, the caravan made its first official stop.
After preaching about wages, health care, gas prices, food prices and property ownership, Sam Rainsy pulled out a copy of the report by environmental watchdog Global Witness called “Cambodia’s Family Trees: Illegal Logging and the Stripping of Public Assets by Cambodia’s Elite,” which was banned by the government in June 2007. Several provincial election committees have each fined Sam Rainsy 5 million riel—about $1,250—because he has used the report on the campaign trail to condemn CPP officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen. The election committees say Sam Rainsy’s actions are slanderous, but their censure has apparently not phased the SRP leader.
“What do you call someone who steals from others?” he asked the crowd.
“Thief!” they shouted back. “Hun Sen is a thief!”
10:10 am: Riding in a Toyota 4Runner, Sam Rainsy greeted group after group with his hands firmly clasped.
“I am very moved when I see the reaction,” he said. “It confirms that the fight I have been leading for years is the right fight.”
There are similar caravans winding through every province every day this week, said Oung Setha, deputy chief of the SRP cabinet.
“When this is over, I will listen to music to relax. But he never relaxes. Never,” Oung Setha said, gesturing toward the party president.
Sam Rainsy said that to maintain energy, he takes the same brown multivitamins his party gives to the poor.
“I take one usually, or two when I feel weary. These days I take two,” he said.
11:54 am: Sam Rainsy greeted everyone, but he got obvious satisfaction from coaxing smiles and waves from CPP supporters.
“See? They are friendly,” Sam Rainsy said. “Under their CPP T-shirts, you cannot see their hearts.”
1:05 pm: The group arrived at Sambuor pagoda in Boeng Krom commune where similar CPP and Funcinpec convoys had passed, said Kim Hoeun, 42.
“I don’t know if CPP or SRP had more supporters because many could join a party with his body and not his brain,” he said.
Regardless, this crowd was giddy during the day’s second rendition of the Sam Rainsy stump speech.
The SRP doesn’t give out sarongs, Sam Rainsy told the group. “But you will get jobs with which you will survive. How many days can you live on a gift?… Vote for change, brothers and sisters.”