There will be no Cambodian Spring anytime soon. This is the sobering reality to a question so tempting to ask – particularly in the shadow of what’s happening in Thailand and now in Lao PDR. So, why won’t a civil society uprising happen in Cambodia soon?
Since its emergence from civil war and transition back to a state of external legitimacy through the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), Cambodia’s democratic moment was fast, fleeting and has long since evaporated.
Dr Gene Sharp, an American scholar and activist, once recommended that citizens view power – not as a monolithic structure that flows from the top down – but upward, where it is dependent on the cooperation and obedience of large numbers of people acting in the various institutions that constitute the state, such as political parties, the media, military or police, the educational system, and corporate or business interests. These are the pillars of support that keep a regime in power.