Preap Kol, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said his movement “One Khmer World” which was created to promote a new political culture among people would not become a political party.
Kol, political analysts Lao Mong Hay and Meas Nee, and Cambodian Centre for Applied Philosophy and Ethics director Pa Chanroeun, recently co-founded the movement to mobilise people, “especially the youths”, to develop a new political culture that “the public has been yearning for”.
Through the new political culture, Kol said, the group will pressure political parties to listen to the people’s aspirations and use them as the basis of their decisions.
“The ‘new political culture’ refers to norms, behaviours, rules and codes of conducts as parts of the whole political processes that are different from the current ones."
“We have seen practices of dirty and corrupt politics which involve physical and verbal violence, such as hate speeches, lack of good-faith dialogues among politicians, abuses of powers, restriction of fundamental freedoms, baseless accusations, personality assassinations, recordings of private conversations, nepotism, unfair political competition, et cetera.
“We believe these practices are diseases in our political system that needs to be cured. That’s why [creating] a new political culture is necessary . . . it’s like a medicine to cure all those diseases,” he said.
In addition to the three co-founders, Kol said he had mobilised other intellectuals across the Kingdom and overseas to kick-start the campaign of promoting the new political culture.
However, he declined to identify the intellectuals who supported this initiative.
Kol said that initially, the movement will hold public consultations involving people from all spectrums of society. The purpose is to identify the essential elements of the new political culture from within, so as not to be regarded as “imported concepts”.
“The initiative to create a new political culture in Cambodia is coming from our citizens”, he said.
‘New horse replaces old’
A spokesperson for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), Sok Eysan, likened One Khmer World to “a new horse that would replace the old horse”, referring to the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) as the latter.
“This is a preparation to replace [the] old horse with [a] new one because the old horse is not usable anymore,” Eysan said.
Without disclosing the identities, he said he heard there was a recent meeting between a Cambodian American person and individuals from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) with an intention to form a new party.
Kol quickly refuted Eysan’s claims, saying that from the start, the group had been attacked and verbally harassed by members of the CNRP, accusing One Khmer World of serving CPP’s agenda.
All the while a spokesperson of the ruling party accused them of waging a campaign on behalf of the CNRP, he stressed.
“This is clear evidence that we are an independent group,” Kol said, noting that in just a short time, his movement has received a lot of support from members of the public who are tired of the country’s current political culture.