Khmer Politics the Soap Opera: Week TwoMarch 19, 2006
This week in Khmer Politics the soap opera, we have seen some swift and fancy foot work, a hydra-headed assault and some back-peddling, all happening at a breakneck pace.
The field was mudded initially by Prince Ranariddh himself, after first nominating one successor, his half brother Prince Ping Pong, then the next day suggesting his Aunt Princess Norodom Vacheara, could do it instead, then the following day announcing it was going to be Prince Norodom Sirivudh, before Prince Ranariddh finally started packing his bags and catching a flight to France. But not before he had to lay off over 100 ‘advisors’ that he had working for the office of the President of the National Assembly. Well, I am sure that the Prince is sadden by so much sudden unemployment, it will probably weigh heavily on his mind as he spends the next two weeks in Aix-en-Provence, I am also almost certain that former Princely advisor Pok Thareth will be working it into his Ken Dodd style stand-up routine.
Anyway, I guess that Prince Sirivudh has some spare time since the Iron Man fired him from his former position as co-Minister of the Interior. His other job as Deputy Prime Minister can not take up to much of his time
All the while the Iron Man is asking public questions about the Olympic Panel and its accounting during the 2005 South-East Asian games, followed by the Iron Man’s pre-emptive body blow, the cancelling of Cambodia to host the 2011 South-East Asian games.
Then came the questions about the location of hundreds of tractors and water pumps and machinery for some NGO project.
As a further slap on the wrist the Iron Man also cut off FUNCINPEC’s supply of free Government diesel – next week it will be the immediate cessation of chocolate biscuits during their tea breaks.
Then another front is revealed, the Ministry of Finance ups its attempts to get Prince Chakrapong to pay up US$1.4 million worth of back taxes from the last 5 years for the Princes failed vanity business that was Royal Phnom Penh Airways.
Hot on the heels of that press release came Prince Chakrapong’s announcement that he was withdrawing his appointment as Secretary-General of FUNCINPEC.
Now the party is bickering amongst itself as to whether it should elect a new Secretary-General or whether one should be appointed – claiming that an election would divide the party, unlike the argument about Appointment Vs Election which I am sure is creating nothing but party unity.
Watching last week’s machinations reminded me of the 1984 Chess World Championship, Kasparov’s deadlocked with Karpov, external forces halting the championship, it restarting in 1985 when Kasparov finally beat Karpov with some highly spectacular variations on the Sicilian Defence.
But if truth be told, Prince Ranariddh is no Karpov, he is not even a Viswanathan Anand; in the uneven chess match of Khmer Politics it is more akin to Kasparov beating Bob the Builder.
The Iron Man is the Super Grandmaster of Khmer Politic: the Soap Opera™, I wonder if he would have had the support of Tsar Nicholas II for such a title?
During most of last week the words that crept into my mind were the ones from the Roman poet Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, “There will be no common faith between those who share power, and each man will be jealous of his associate”, now he may well have written that under the patronage of Nero, with regard to his Senate, but it holds just as accurate now in 2006 Cambodia as it did in 60AD Rome.
All of which kind of makes me wonder if that Sum Sitha, the Khmer American (Khmerican?) really knows what he is letting himself in for now that he started pushing his Khmer National Party more into the spotlight, does he really think that he can make any changes in Khmer Politics from his home in Long Beach, California? Surely as a former FUNCINPEC member, former Khmer National Party Member, former Sam Rainsy supporter and former Khmer Citizens Party (Mk1) member you would have thought that he had learnt some lessons about Khmer Politics? Is his new role a supporting one on this Soap Opera, or is it just a character appearance that will stay on air for a season and then vanish into a subplot somewhere? Is there a Khmer version of Josh Lyman lurking somewhere out there in the wings?
And when will we see some press releases from the Khmer Front Party translated into English, I thought that we all had to be super Inclusive and Sensitive to the needs of others these days ?