Partyforumseasia: In a democratic system, dealing with the opposition is not easy. They might win the next election and take over the spoils of power. If you are the ruling party or coalition and used to all the goodies, it is self-evident that you will do everything to prevent being voted out – if you don’t have to fear an independent judiciary…
Southeast Asian ruling parties are practicing remarkable tactics to stay in power and keep the opposition at more than arms length.
With the Malaysian example, PM Najib weathering the storm of the 1MDB financial scandal in which he is personally involved, domestically unscathed and nearly without blinking, Camobodia’s ruling CPP and PM Hun Sen are following suit with rather similar recipes.
Political weapon No. 1 is the law. Since charismatic opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been neutralized by consecutive prison terms, the same is now happening to Cambodia’s charismatic opposition leader Sam Rainsy. Living already in self-imposed exile in France to avoid imprisonment for an earlier conviction, he has just been sentenced to another five years in absentia.
Superfluous to add that all these convictions are more than dubious. At least they have a little bit of legitimate veneer, though not too many voters would buy it. But the Cambodian government is using physical violence as well, opposition MP’s and Senators being brutally beaten up in full daylight in front of Parliament as reported by Partyforumseasia earlier. Malaysia, at least, is already a step ahead and refrains from un-elegant use of force. But neutralizing the opposition by imprisonment is still a scandal!
For details of the sentence see the following two articles in
The Cambodia Daily:
CNRP President Sam Rainsy Sentenced to a Further Five Years in Prison (LINK) and
Jail Time Piles Up for Sam Rainsy (LINK)