Party Competition Cambodian Style – No Impunity At The End?


Partyforumseasia: In February we had last commented on the ongoing brutality against opposition members  in Cambodia’s Parliament. While CNRP leader Sam Rainsy is in exile again and a well orchestrated campaign is trying to destroy his deputy Kem Sokha over an alleged extramarital affair, there is a not really expected follow-up to the brutal beatings of CNRP members in front of parliament.
The thugs were masked and escaped easily under the eyes of police deployed in front of the Parliament building. It all looked like the usual impunity for many dubious happenings under supervision and responsibility of the ruling party and its government. The traditionally rather indulgent international observers and embassies in Phnom Penh are getting more vocal with their protest, but with traditionally little results on the Cambodian side.
But, surprise, surprise, now the authorities have identified and indicted some of the thugs who beat up the unprotected parliamentarians:
Image 2Under the headline “Of 16 who assaulted MPs, only three, all Bodyguard Unit members, face trial” the Phnom Penh Post (Link) gives the latest details. The three accused are all “members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal Bodyguard Unit – while additional evidence suggests further involvement by the elite unit.”

At least three (scapegoats?) indicted, but the whole scheme highlighted. That is not party competition but partisan warfare. Political hardball is quite common in Southeast Asia, but even a lot harder in Cambodia. Let’s wait for the justice system for results and final assessment.

Who Will Be The Next President Of The Philippines?


Partyforumseasia: By coincidence, but not completely surprising, the similar presidential systems in the United States and their former colony, the Philippines, are heading for the election of their next president. The Philippino voters will go to the ballot boxes on 9 May, the US voters will follow half a year later, on 8 November. There are striking similarities in the campaigns of the candidates, some rather, even extremely shrill and – compared to many former presidential races – increasingly populist. The political parties supposed to support a candidate in both systems are being more or less eclipsed as party membership, affiliation or quiet support are increasingly vanishing in both countries. Popularity at any price and fundraising are a big factor. But credible narratives as trademark and emotional identifier of the candidates are increasingly playing their role as well.
Presidents

Just a month before the election, political scientists Julio C. Teehankee, De La Salle University and Mark R. Thompson, City University of Hong Kong, offer a fascinating insight and overview of the electoral situation in the Philippines in an article published 8 April in the EastAsiaForum (full text here LInk):

Here are some glimpses into the article:
“Commentators often view Philippine presidential campaigns as determined purely by popularity, name recall or money. But this overlooks the importance of the enduring narratives that candidates draw upon to woo voters’ support, via widespread political campaigning both on air and on the ground.

While political parties are relatively weak in the Philippines, presidential candidates have based their campaigns on the major narratives of reform, pro-poor populism and neo-authoritarian calls for ‘peace and order’.

Those looking for a ‘safe pair of hands’ to maintain internal political stability and guide the Philippines through both a difficult world economic environment and tense relations with China may look to Mar Roxas, who prospered under the current administration. But Roxas, who has a long record in government, has struggled to gain traction with his promise to continue the ‘straight path’ (daang matuwid) — a reference to Aquino’s anti-corruption reform agenda. (…)

The most promising candidate in many ways is Grace Poe. Poe combines the pro-poor ‘populist’ appeal of her adoptive father — actor-turned-politician Fernando Poe, Jr. — with her image as a competent and serious-minded reformer. Where Duterte offers an iron fist, Poe offers a velvet glove. But her message is failing to take root.

Poe narrowly avoided disqualification for becoming a US citizen before returning to the Philippines over a decade ago. This has led to worries that she is out of touch with the average Filipino. On top of this, the endorsement of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and her defence of its founder — former Marcos crony Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr — have led to charges she is a ‘puppet’.”