Monday 22 July 2013

Hun Many Calls on Youth to Unite Against Change

By and - July 22, 2013

Speaking to a crowd of more than 10,000 CPP youth supporters on Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son Hun Many called for those in the audience to unite against calls for a change in government, warning that a ruling party loss in Sunday’s national election would cause instability and chaos.

Echoing speeches made by his father in the months leading up to the July 28 poll, Mr. Many warned in his short, scripted speech of the destruction of the current social order should the CPP lose its grip on power. 

Hun Many, center, the youngest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen and a first-time CPP candidate for the National Assembly, leads a rally of about 10,000 CPP youth supporters through Phnom Penh on Sunday. (Siv Channa)
Hun Many, center, the youngest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen and a first-time CPP candidate for the National Assembly, leads a rally of about 10,000 CPP youth supporters through Phnom Penh on Sunday. (Siv Channa)

“On behalf of the youth of the Cambodian People’s Party, we need to maintain a clear political stand to gather together to protect the achievements of the Cambodian People’s Party…. In particular, we must protect the tree of peace that has been so fruitful for all of us,” he said.

“If we are careless and lack consideration and there is not a strong political will to protect this prosperity, it can be lost immediately and the whole nation will fall into instability and society will be beset by chaos,” Mr. Many warned.

Mr. Many, 30, the youngest of Mr. Hun Sen’s three sons, is the head of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, a CPP youth wing, and a first-time candidate for Parliament in Kompong Speu province.

As has been his standard practice prior to national elections, Mr. Hun Sen is currently observing a one month vow of silence ahead of the poll, in which his ruling CPP is largely expected to win its fourth mandate to rule the country.

Seemingly referencing the hordes of young Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters who, over the past three weeks, have taken to the city’s streets by the thousands calling for change, which is pronounced “b’do” in Khmer, Mr. Many told the assembled youth not to be swayed.
“There is an atmosphere created by some political parties that have tried to ignore all of these achievements [of the CPP] and have launched a campaign to attack the CPP with unjust and irresponsible verbal and political slogans,” he said.

Mr. Many said that the CPP must remain clean in its own campaigning.

“We have to use professional campaign tactics, remain gentle, dignified, clever and brave in convincing the public and people of all generations to believe more strongly in the CPP and vote for the CPP because only the CPP has the ability to remain responsible, keep peace and maintain development,” he said.

Standing behind Mr. Many, whose head and eyebrows were shaved in honor of his grandfather, Hun Neang, who passed away on July 12, were the CPP’s leading candidates for the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, a high-powered group that included Finance Minister Keat Chhon, Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng, Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi and Kep Chuk­tema, who stepped down in May as Phnom Penh’s governor.

With thousands of the CPP youth supporters lined up on their motorbikes in the roads and parking lots on the north end of Koh Pich, a few hundred youth were marched toward the stage prior to Mr. Many’s speech, throughout which they waved bright blue flags bearing the CPP logo.
Compared to Friday’s opposition rally in which CNRP President Sam Rainsy was met by an estimated 100,000 supporters who, seemingly with little coordination, turned out to meet the self-exiled opposition leader, Sunday’s CPP rally was a highly orchestrated affair.
Although those in attendance were unanimous in their support for the ruling party, their visions for the future of the CPP was more varied.

Kim Sarun, 22, said he would like to see Mr. Many take over the reins from Mr. Hun Sen when he steps down as prime minister.

“Hun Many is good because he serves the people and like his father, he would continue to develop infrastructure and improve the country,” he said.

Tan Chenda, 26, a university student studying finance, said that he hoped the CPP, led by Mr. Hun Sen, would continue to develop the country with a focus on bridges and big buildings.

“They have a good economic plan because it has led to more investment in Cambodia and helped people find jobs when they graduate,” he said.

However, a number of students in the audience said that as youth take a more central role in the CPP’s campaigns, a changing of the guard at the top of the party may also be in order.

“The CPP has helped people lead a good daily life,” said Num Vutha, 20, a student at Chakto­muk High School, who was vigorously waving a Cambodian flag at Sunday’s rally. “But I want to see a change in leaders because in the U.S., they always change leaders. Maybe they [new leaders] could improve schools and develop the country faster,” he said.

One of the CPP members helping organize the event, who gave his name only as Di and said he worked for the Phnom Penh municipality, said that he hoped a new generation of CPP leaders would breathe new life into a party that has been controlled by the same men for more than three decades.
“Some CPP youth have studied oversees and they have new ideas and new opinions. The knowledge of CPP officers from 1979 has not improved until now,” he said.

“I think the CPP youth are the new power in the party. Maybe we will have change in the CPP in the future, but the future is not now.”

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