Compelled Speech on the March in Cambodia With New ‘Mandatory’ Voting Law

It is no longer enough to remain silent and keep out of politics. Cambodians are now required to actively affirm the ruling regime – including at the ballot box.

On June 13, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in one of his now-daily streams of consciousness that dictate government policy, announced that he wants to amend existing election laws so that anyone who doesn’t vote in July’s general election will never be able to stand as a candidate in any future ballot. Like much of Hun Sen’s actions over recent months, it’s overkill – governance on a whim.

His ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after all, is assured complete victory at July’s ballot after barring its main rival from competing. He has won the support of most ruling party members for the handover of the prime ministership to his eldest son, Hun Manet, probably sometime later this year. His family dominates all areas of society. His other sons will take senior roles after July. He has pacified the influential though rumbustious tycoons (oknhas). He has cemented his power over the military after confirming Mao Sophan, leader of Brigade 70, his de-facto private bodyguard unit, as the next army chief.

Seemingly anyone who has said anything negative about Hun Sen in the past is pleading publicly for forgiveness, while jailed or threatened critics of his government have appealed for clemency or joined the ranks of the CPP.

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