Phnom Penh: On the same day Cambodia’s highest court dissolved the main opposition party, Prime Minister Hun Sen was busy campaigning at garment factories, urging some 10,000 workers to vote for his ruling Cambodian Peoples Party and doling out cash to more than 700 pregnant women.
The strongman leader said he planned to remain in power for at least 10 more years before repeating lavish promises of additional benefits for garment workers beginning next year, including free healthcare, a higher minimum wage and a US$100 (RM417) bonus to mothers for every newborn child.
The premier also warned workers not to let anybody incite them to protest, and told them not to bow their heads to foreigners an apparent dig at the foreign powers the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was accused of colluding with to topple his government.
Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Naresuan University in Thailand, highlighted the fact that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was ousted from power on Wednesday at a time when Hun Sen is using the same tactics Mugabe utilised to also hang on to a decades long parliamentary dictatorship.
“So the question is – in the process of trying to stay in power, will Hun Sen also run his country into the ground?” he asked.
“Will he move Cambodia in the direction of a Mugabe future?”
The Supreme Courts decision to dissolve the opposition on Thursday came after a months-long political crackdown by the government, which has seen independent media outlets closed, dozens of opposition MPs flee abroad and opposition leader Kem Sokha jailed on charges of treason. — Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network