Shirts Bought for Campaigns

As Cambodian political parties begin to prepare for next summer’s general elections, second-hand shirts have become hot items.

Vendors report that CPP operatives have been ordering thousands of them to stamp with party logos and distribute to campaigners and party members across the country.

“I’ve already sold 2,000 shirts, and the CPP is ordering more,” said a second-hand clothing vendor at O’Russei Market, who asked not to be identified. “I’m happy because it is the biggest customer we’ve ever had.”

He and his relatives, also used-clothing vendors, estimate the CPP has bought 10,000 shirts.

The party has ordered long- and short-sleeved Oxford shirts, the vendor said. He buys them in bulk from used-clothing dealers in South Korea and Japan.

The shirts don’t look worn, he said. He buys unsoiled shirts in good condition, then washes and irons them before sending them to a screen-printing shop.

Tep Ngorn, director of cabinet for the CPP,  said the buying of used shirts was not a central party initiative, but one apparently un­dertaken by local groups.

He said the party has set up work­­­­­ing groups to organize party members from the national and provincial levels all the way down to individual villages. One purpose of the working groups is to rally the party faithful—whom he estimated at 2 million people—in anticipation of the election, he said.

“I don’t know about this buying of shirts, but maybe [some of] the working groups are buying them to donate during the campaign,” he said.

Eng Chhay Eang, secretary general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said his party will begin preparing its campaign material six months before the election and second-hand shirts will likely be part of the equation.

“We order T-shirts from local factories to be screen-printed, and we also buy second-hand shirts because they are cheap and good quality.”

Funcinpec deputy secretary general Nhiek Bun Chhay said his party will never buy second-hand shirts because “they will become party property.”


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