The Royal Academy of Cambodia director and representatives of smaller parties have hailed the dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) by the Supreme Court a boon to democracy in the kingdom, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Wednesday (Nov 22).
“Democracy in Cambodia is completely good, has not disappeared and proceeds smoothly, and it is not restricted like the opposition says,” Sok Touch, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told a roundtable he organized on Tuesday (Nov 21).
The roundtable, titled the “Democratization process in Cambodia in the absence of the opposition party”, was attended by government officials, representatives of the ruling CPP and smaller parties, including the royalist Funcinpec and LDP.
Touch said the disbanding of the CNRP does not undermine multiparty democracy, noting that minor parties are still on the electoral playing field – a proof of a continuing vibrant multiparty democracy.
The academic maintained that it was inconsequential what disenfranchised votes felt. “Cambodia only had importance during the election, all the voting rights will be handed over to the elected politicians,” he said.
Touch rose to prominence in 2015 after he was asked by the government to conduct a survey of border posts with Vietnam. He was appointed head of the academy in July and has entered political fray since the arrest of CNRP president Kem Sokha in September.
Funcinpec’s Phan Sethy and LDP’s Chin Thun said they were not concerned that Cambodia’s democracy would suffer in the absence of the CNRP. Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said the roundtable was the continued working of the government’s propaganda machine where the dictator’s men were not hesitant to repeat lies.
“The mobilization of pro-government lap dogs like these to bark out the party line is all about Hun Sen and the CPP trying to present a façade of normality over events that have left the international community aghast,” said Robertson in his email.