Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Despite law against propaganda, PM urges students to vote for CPP

Despite law against propaganda, PM urges students to vote for CPP

Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) talks to a student yesterday at the Regional Polytechnic Institute Techo Sen Takeo. Facebook
Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) talks to a student yesterday at the Regional Polytechnic Institute Techo Sen Takeo. Facebook

Despite law against propaganda, PM urges students to vote for CPP

Seemingly in clear breach of his government’s own law banning political propaganda in academic institutions, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday told grade 12 students in Takeo province they should vote for the CPP in upcoming elections, reminding the pupils they were “learning under the schools of samdech”.

In an exchange at Hun Sen Bun Rany High School in Bati district – labelled “inappropriate” by a youth activist – the premier first probed the students on who they would vote for in the election, after asking if they were old enough to cast a ballot.

“For samdech,” the teenagers replied in chorus, using the prime minister’s royally bestowed title, which translates roughly to “lord”.

Agreeing with their response, the premier continued: “Yes, you have been learning under the schools of samdech; how come you don’t vote for samdech?

“Frankly speaking, how can you vote for the others when they have never built schools for you? Please help to tell your parents, too.”

Hun Sen’s comments come only two months after Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron released a statement reinforcing a 2015 directive banning all political activity in academic settings.

Naron – whose statement came after students in Pursat were given T-shirts proclaiming “I love the Cambodian People’s Party” to wear during a CPP event – threatened to fine or shut down institutions that violated the order.

However, the education minister was unreachable yesterday. Ministry spokesman Ros Salin, who requested that questions be sent via text message, did not respond by press time.

Responding yesterday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he would not say whether the premier was “right or wrong”, but noted “the prime minister is higher than the [education] minister”.

He then added: “It is normal, because on behalf of the government, he is the prime minister, and for the CPP, he is the chairman. During the conversation between students at school . . . he cannot avoid such a conversation to ask students to vote . . . However, it is up to the public to make a decision whether it’s wrong or right.”

Since 2003, some 4,000 schools have been built with private funds and named after the premier and his wife, according to Eysan, who said the donations made up for the state’s limited resources.

However, responding yesterday, CNRP spokesman Eng Chhay Eang slammed the conflation of state and private resources and their “exploitation” for the ruling party’s political gain. “Cambodians who witness this can make their decision who to vote for,” he said.

A youth advocate for the Grassroots Democracy Party also lamented the confusion created between the prime minister’s role as a government representative and his party advocacy, calling yesterday’s comments “inappropriate”.

“The more important message should be to encourage students to prepare themselves as human resources for the nation; it would be much better than asking for the votes from the students,” said the advocate, who asked not to be named because of agreements with his employer.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group