Observing early-rainy season rice cultivation in 2013, Samdech Techo Hun Sen visited the district of Khsach Kandal, Kandal province, where he joins with farmers to prepare land and to transplant rice. Samdech Techo also takes the chance to share with them, and the people of Cambodia as a whole, the latest developments on the process of forming the committee to address the election irregularities, the legal process of setting up a new Cabinet and urgent matters that the new Cabinet will need to attend to. CNV makes some selection of the impromptu comments and translates them as followed:
Solidarity for National Development
As the election is now over, I would request that we stop talking about who wins or loses the election. No matter one supports and votes for any political party, please try to have understanding on one another and stronger solidarity as we all are living in the same village. It is personal rights that grandfather Ngim chose Party A and brother Choey chose Party B, but they both should not be in conflict. They both are Cambodian. No one can infringe upon and/or violate your rights. We already cast our votes. We are still living in the same village, sharing neighborhood. During the election campaign, I saw that members from different political parties were holding hands together. I was so happy, though in the election campaign period, I could not make any comment.
I still want to see those pictures. I wish to see that our people, no matter what party they belong, could love each other. I would not like to see our people in the state of division. I would first ask for this from members of the Cambodian People’s Party, if I could not do so for supporters of other parties. I urge that the CPP members be the first to carry out friendly behavior. If you all like me, the Cambodian People’s Party and are longing for the country’s peace, I would demand from you an abandonment of feeling discontent and hatred caused by exchange of words and opinions during the election campaign.
I am making this plea for the whole country and if I could not have positive response from members of other parties, I would cling on to the response of the members of the Cambodian People’s Party and those who have voted the Cambodian People’s Party to win the majority. Nationwide, 24 constituencies, the majority of the Cambodian electorates have voted for the Cambodian People’s Party. It is in this development that I demand the majority of our people to act first.
The Cambodian People’s Party has been holding power so far and will continue to do so for the time to come. I am still the Prime Minister and will be one for the fifth legislative term of the National Assembly. In this thought, with love and pity on me, or the Cambodian People’s Party, most importantly of all our country’s peace and stability, the factory to go on working, so that all seven children of our brother here can maintain their jobs, I am calling urgently on our people not to be discriminate as far as political parties are concerned. It would not be an appropriate development that (politicians) in Phnom Penh are talking to one another and our people in the villages are in disputes with one another.
Before my absence during the election campaign, in the district of Batheay, Kompong Cham province, I said loud and clear we should not make the election a cause of breaking our national unity. I am seeking understanding so that we all can keep our country and people in peace. As the election is now over, I would seek every member of the Cambodian People’s Party to act first. We must apply a Cambodian slogan that goes “it is not cheap to use your hands and it is not expensive to use your mouth.” It is still a correct proverb. There is one other proverb that goes “bending down for full grain, raising head high for empty grain.”
Yesterday some politicians said Hun Sen has become docile. I have always been so. The fact that I am talking loud is because I could not express myself. For instance when my father passed away, I also sobbed when HM the King and the Queen-Mother were present to express their condolences. I also wept in Beijing (when Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk passed away). It was not fate. I really wept. I also shed my tear when I talked about my father yesterday with the Ambassador of China. Some would reason that I am docile because the CPP lost many seats. I already said that in the democratic process, winning or losing is indeed up to the people. The most important thing is that we have to make sure our country wins. Now our country really wins and I would like to see it wins more than this.
I am begging with respect and affection for all of us to have pity on our nation that used to be in fracture. I am begging, no matter which party you are voting for, especially those supporters of the CPP to act first in healing this. I do not know whom you voted for but I know that you all are Cambodians whom I must serve.
An Independent Committee to Address Voting Irregularities
Today, please allow me to speak a bit about what I have seen in the press this morning. First, what I have seen in the Cambodia Daily and I would suggest that it quotes everything I said in Stoeng Meanjei intersections and overpass construction site to make thing clear. There has been a confusion that I propose for a formation of an independent committee to address irregularities. I did not do that. According to what they have written, I seem to be the one that did. In fact, I said I have the news that the National Election Committee (NEC) will pursue the matter with existing mechanism but they would allow political parties and civil society to participate. I would welcome such a move and the Cambodian People’s Party would join them too.
This clearly means that we are not going to form a new committee. It has clearly stipulated by law that the NEC will be the one to resolve the problems. In case that they could not resolve them, the matters will be brought to the attention of the Constitutional Council, according to existing law. We cannot afford to do it otherwise. However, should the NEC see that it is necessary for participation from political parties, civil society, or even officials from UN agencies, I would have no objection to that. They could participate to review all irregularities and address all complaints. I have seen that the NEC issues a communiqué that political parties and civil society could send their staff to participate. Yesterday, HE Sam Rainsy and HE Sar Kheng were in a phone conversation on this issue. HE Sar Kheng clearly affirmed that there is no other way than using the mechanism of the NEC, with the participation from political parties and non-governmental organizations.
Finally, there was an understanding that the Cambodian People’s Party and CNRP would send their representatives to consult with the NEC on the way to do thing. Upon hearing his report, I told him that that could be a good way to do it. This is how much I can clarify the issue and I would ask anyone who has not understood my speech to quote everything I said. Interpretation in newspaper articles have led to a different understanding. I must clarify that I have no right whatsoever to do it, especially when it is not according to law. Now that the NEC opens for participations from political parties and non-governmental organizations, and possibly officials from the UN agencies, under the umbrella of the NEC and existing law, I would say it is great.
National Assembly Session and Forming the Cabinet – Not Stuck
Yesterday I had a meeting with the Ambassador of (the Federal republic of) Germany. He asked me about what is to be done next and I have told him everything from the beginning. Upon seeing me, first he congratulated me for winning the election and he said even one vote would make you a winner. He conveyed the message from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I probed “I heard just now that you congratulated my party for winning the election?” and he said “yes I certainly did.” He asked me what is next.
I told him that giving no recognition to election results is not a new thing. This happened since 1998. The oppositions never recognized the election results. I just repeated what I talked to the German ambassador yesterday. I said, they did not recognize the election results in 1998, 2003 and 2008 but they never failed to claim their seats in the National Assembly. It is in this understanding that I have raised the possibility of creating the leadership mechanism of the National Assembly. After the constitutional amendment of 2006, formation of the leadership mechanism of the National Assembly would not be stuck. In 1993, it was impossible because we then did not yet have a Constitution. We fully applied the Constitution in 1998.
The number of seats in the National Assembly has increased from 120 in 1993 to 122 and then 123. The Constitution then obliged us to make decision with a two-third majority. That put everything in stalemate situation. Quorum for a meeting was set for seven tenth of the seats or 87 seats. So in every meeting, when an elected party lacked the 87 seats required would need to seek another party’s nod for a meeting. That was from before the constitutional amendment in 2006, I repeat. From the 2006 amendment, those problems no longer exist. I am speaking for the whole country to listen to and I do not interpret the law as the competency to do so belong to the Constitutional Council.
From now on, to adopt a draft law, we would need an absolute majority, which requires 63 seats in the National Assembly. Should any elected candidate from any political party choose to boycott the parliamentary session, it is his/her rights. We can convene a session for only 63 seats to adopt the law, to form the Cabinet. It is clear that the process is not stuck. Should the (opposition) party win, they would do the same and they would not need us too. We would not block them from convening a session. I would like everyone who made comments in the last few days to look once again at the 2006 amended Constitution. The Cambodian People’s Party, though I do not say how many exactly, has received the majority of vote more than enough to convene the session, to form the Cabinet and to adopt laws, especially the annual budget law.
However, as officials in the Royal Government know already, if the budget law were to be stuck, the Cabinet could not be formed by September or October, the caretaker government would continue to function, according to the law on financial system, on a one twelfth of the annual budget. It would be sufficient for the Royal Government to take care of its payroll and small projects. We cannot go into contract with foreign country for bigger loans since we need the adoption from the National Assembly in order to do so. Our national budget is 15 billion USD. So 1/12 of the budget would be about 1 billion USD, we can make it.
I would suggest that no country would threaten us to cut assistance. Some also make noise from Washington to cease so and so assistance. I could not stop you from doing that. However, who would be affected from this cut? It would not be the Royal Government but primarily those non-governmental organizations that are receiving their money. They would not have work to do. Their fifty million USD in assistance is not for the Royal Government to pay for its staff but certain non-governmental organizations. However, those are the voices of just a few members of congress and the Senate, not the government of President Barack Obama.
We were happy and grateful for their assistance. I asked my son, how much is their military assistance? It is roughly about one million USD. Maybe we can do without. In the past, they deducted their offer of about 100 used military vehicles. China then replaced it with 257 vehicles. As for the military vehicles, I did not demand them or said anything when it did not happen. Is it not too extreme that (when something happened here) cut aid, (something happened there) cut aid. Again, I would stress once again that it is the voice of a few members of congress and the senate only. It is not the voice of the American people or the US congress or the Senate a whole or the Barack Obama administration.
In case there is a stalemate, could the session of the National Assembly convene, according to what they say the article 76. That was the case in 2008 when finally the opposition parties turned up for the session of the National Assembly. The NEC will issue its decision on candidates-elect until there are 123 members of the National Assembly. Should they fail to clarify all 123 members, the National Assembly would not be able to convene the first session. Once the NEC declares all required members, HM the King would invite the most senior member of the National Assembly to convene other members to the meeting. It would be within 60 days at the latest for the first session of the National Assembly to take place under the presidency of HM the King, article 82 of the Constitution.
Therefore, 60 days after the elections, HM the King would preside over the first session. Should they choose not to show up they would be facing with a big question if they go against the will of the people? How many would show up is not a matter since there has not been any specification as to how many would validate the session. In order to block the first session, what had they to do? They had to declare abandoning their seats. The law of the National Election Committee stipulates that if a party abandons its seats or its seats are denied … the NEC will divide the number of seats among the remaining elected parties in the National Assembly.
I did not know what HE Ambassador of Germany had said, but it is not what it was in the Cambodian Daily’s article, which reads: “Hun Sen threatens to take seats of the CNRP to share among other parties.” I did not say that. No one takes the seats from any party. However, if an (elected) party abandons their seats, the NEC will divide those seats among remaining elected parties. If they do not abandon, no one could do that.
Once the NEC publicly declares that so and so is elected, one primary condition is to take swear an oath. If they fail to be present in the first session, they should at least be present to swear an oath. Should they fail to take an oath, they would not have parliamentary immunity. The question would be whether (CPP) could proceed with absolute majority. We will proceed in forming the leadership structure of the National Assembly and the Cabinet. The other party would do exactly what we are doing now if they are elected and we would not object to that.
Threats for Demonstration
People who would participate in any demonstration should think of themselves. They have frequently threatened us of their demonstration. The Cambodian People’s Party does not say anything about their counter demonstration. It would be dangerous. The Cambodian People’s Party would not resort to that. Let us just understand that if the oppositions have rights to launch demonstration against the election results, the Cambodian People’s Party also does to support them. What situation could this lead to and have they, who make endless threat of launch demonstration everyday thought about its consequences? It is the time to talk about political and socioeconomic stability, normalcy of people’s livelihood. We also have this senior secondary school exam coming, why would anyone want to lure them into politics? Workers should work in factories and farmers should transplant or harvest and not join demonstration – not for ruling party or the oppositions.
Since the election is over, we should all reside in peace and work together. From our side, we are ready as I said to the German Ambassador: (1) participate in the session of the National Assembly, while talk should be conducted about the set up of the National Assembly leadership. This is a good thing for all of us. (2) In case we cannot go through the first door, we will have to go through the second one. If they do not join the session, we will still convene the session.
I am grateful for the people who have cast their votes and participated in the campaign. In general, we have done a good job. Our people set their time for political activities but also their rice cultivations, for example here, they must have prepared their seedling before the elections. On the Election Day we noticed that some people had first gone to the rice field and returned to vote later. I thank the authority, the armed forces, NEC and those security apparatus for the elections that there has not been a single death from this election. I thank directly to those who voted for the Cambodian People’s Party to have the leading majority in the whole country. This shall keep me in leadership for another five years where I am sure we will be able to realize reforms successfully and improve our people’s living conditions.
We cannot stay as when we were elected in 2008. We will need to make our rice field better than before, get our workers better pay, and the armed forces and civil servants higher salary. In 2003, our economic condition was more difficult and on the Election Day we had only 2 billion Riels in the treasury. Today I should declare that we have over 1 billion or hundreds of millions of USD in cash in the treasury. We have international reserve of 3.5 billion USD, not including gold reserve./.