28th July, 2014
The surprise selection of Dr. Pung Chiv Kek as the ninth member of the National Election Committee (NEC) is a perfect choice and should be welcomed by all political stakeholders. Being president of the human rights group Licadho, who has been critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen's human rights abuses in the past, she is seen as being biased toward the opposition and is unlikely to be accepted by Mr. Hun Sen as the ninth and crucial member of the NEC. The fact that he accepted her nomination is a surprise and suspicious at the same time.
While one could accept that Mr. Hun Sen is genuine is seeing real reforms, especially the electoral body, one must be mindful that Mr. Hun Sen is a master of tactician and is notorious for reneging on his promises. Khmerization is concerned that Mr. Hun Sen could play tricks by trying to outsmart the CNRP, especially Mr. Sam Rainsy and Mr. Kem Sokha, by agreeing to nominate an individual deemed to be acceptable to the opposition, but he could play tricks and attempt to stifle her appointment by ordering all CPP parliamentarians to vote against the new composition of the NEC when the National Assembly convened to make a formal appointment, knowing that the inability of the formation of the new NEC could allow the old NEC, which was stacked up by the CPP, to continue organising future elections.
This agreement looks good on paper but it might not be carried through in whole when it comes to the implementation of it. Mr. Hun Sen can renege on it any time once the CNRP lawmakers-elect took up their seats in the National Assembly. He can just order the CPP to vote against the agreement or against the new composition of the NEC.
However, this political agreement is the best the CNRP could ever get from Mr. Hun Sen, as the CNRP has lost its bargaining power since the 4th January crackdown. Let's hope for the best for the CNRP and let's hope that both parties and all major political stakeholders put national interests before personal or party interests in order to avoid shedding more Khmer bloods and to work together for the progress and the betterment of Cambodia.