In their last major Phnom Penh rally before the elections, Son Sann Party candidates railed against Funcinpec, the CPP and illegal Vietnamese immigrants, while their party patriarch and hundreds of supporters listened.
Party President Son Soubert slammed the CPP and Funcinpec for corruption, accusing them of betraying voters after 1993.
“They cut down trees and sold them for money to line their own pockets,” he claimed.
All of the speeches in the three-hour rally were peppered with references to the Vietnamese and their connections to the CPP.
“We are absolutely against illegal immigrants,” said the party’s deputy secretary-general, Pol Ham. “The Hanoi government has sent its people to Cambodia. If you want the yuon to swallow Cambodia, you should vote for another party.”
“Yuon,” a common ethnic slur for the Vietnamese, was frequently used by speechmakers, who addressed a crowd that peaked at about 700 at the park in front of the National Museum.
Party Secretary-General Kem Sokha, who also chairs the National Assembly’s Committee on Human Rights, said: “You should try Son Sann Party soup served without MSG. It is probably more delicious than yuon MSG.” The chemical flavor enhancer has been a common gift from the CPP to potential voters.
On hand at the rally was 87-year-old Son Sann, Son Soubert’s father, who retired from party politics to take a seat on the Constitutional Council.
The former prime minister and adviser to King Norodom Sihanouk was accompanied by his wife, 79-year-old Nema Machhwa. The couple listened to party leaders’ speeches and clapped along to traditional Khmer music and dancing.
He did not make a speech, but briefly answered a reporter’s question about campaign climate.
“There are certainly things [during the campaign] against the law and against justice,” he said. He declined further comment
Son Soubert, speaking after the rally, said he hopes the Son Sann Party can gain 10 seats, the same number it won in 1993 under its former name the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party.
But the BLDP split into two factions in 1995 and BLDP parliamentarians such as Ieng Mouly and Thach Reng have formed their own parties.
As for possible alliances after the election, Son Soubert said, “We cannot abide with corruption and criminals,” adding he did not rule out working with factions of the CPP. “Even among the CPP, there are good people,” he said.
Son Soubert also called for election monitors to stay beyond Sunday, citing a high death toll in the weeks following the 1993 polls.
Son Soubert said he will travel to Battambang town for a rally on Friday, the final day of the official campaign season, while Kem Sokha will lead a truck convoy through Phnom Penh.