A Tiger Rules the Mountain

The world's longest serving Prime Minister and Cambodia's pursuit of democracy

Election 2013

CPP campaign 2013
CPP campaign 2013
Chapter 6, The Eve

‘The CPP had many thousands of people joining their campaigns but they were being paid $1 – $7 per day. The CPP took CPP-affiliated public servants away from their jobs to join campaigns throughout the country, during which money and gifts would be given. Assisted by local Commune Councillors, they would organise village-wide meetings or go door-to-door giving sarongs, MSG and rice.’

Chapter 6, The Eve

‘On the final afternoon of campaigning, I stood at the side of the six-lane Monivong Boulevard. Standing near the middle of this artery, thousands of CNRP supporters paraded by in tuk-tuks and on motorbikes. People waved at me as they drove past, and some slowed down to high-five with a group of young Cambodians standing beside me. There were families on motos, groups of friends riding side-by-side, and tuk-tuks overflowing with people. One tuk-tuk was full of orange-robed monks, defying orders to stay neutral politically. Even those in the parade were awestruck; a father driving a moto, with one young daughter sitting in front of him and another wearing a CNRP cap behind him, pulled over to look back as the crowd rolled past.’

CNRP & FUNCINPEC shake hands
Chapter 6, The Eve

‘The sense of fraternity even extended to a small group of FUNCINPEC supporters who had come down the other, empty, side of Monivong Boulevard. Some CNRP supporters, ignorant of FUNCINPEC’s future duplicity, leaned over the barrier to shake hands with them, united in believing that change was coming to Cambodia.’

CNRP rally 2013. girl holding up 7 fingers
Chapter 6, The Eve

‘I had been watching the procession for about five minutes and the same steady wave of CNRP supporters kept coming. I could not see the start nor the end of it. CNRP rallies often attracted between 10,000 and 40,000 people in major cities like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Battambang, but this was the biggest of all. Bewitched, I got on my bike and flowed with the back of the crowd to Freedom Park.’

Chapter 6, The Eve

‘I arrived there about 5pm as the sun was beginning its descent from a blue sky, peppered with light, powdery clouds. I was standing at the back 100 metres from the stage, with a sea of people before me. Just behind me, a well-built, handsome young man wearing a baseball cap, jeans and a white t-shirt stood barefoot on his moto looking like a Cambodian James Dean, waving a Cambodian flag high in the sky.’

CNRP rally 2013, boy flying flag
The Khmer no. 7 – CNRP’s number on the ballot
Chapter 6, The Eve

‘Next to me, a woman in her early thirties sat on her black Honda Dream 125 with a bright blue number 7 sticker on her left cheek. Turning to face me, with her hat pulled down to her eyes, she smiled and held seven fingers up, showing how she would vote in two days’ time.’

Chapter 7, ghosts and nobodies

‘The sweet innocence I was enjoying in Siem Reap was something that Phnom Penh’s impoverished Stung Meanchey area had buried a long time ago. Locals, thousands of whom had lined the streets to welcome Sam Rainsy’s return 10 days earlier, were seething that their names were not on the voting list and could not vote. They complained to a National Election Committee staff member who pretended to faint to avoid the confrontation, and then she retreated into a locked room causing the baying crowd to grow even angrier and larger in size.’

‘The sun had reached its zenith and military police arrived to rescue the staff member from the school. The swollen crowd vastly outnumbered the 100 police officers though and chose this moment to vent anger at the various injustices suffered.  They pelted police with rocks who abandoned two pick-up trucks in their hasty escape. Scrawny, young men began rocking one flipping it onto its back, chanting slogans against the Government and the Vietnamese. One man climbed on top while others kicked and beat the car with sticks.’

”The Stung Meanchey mob turned on one man who looked Vietnamese beating him severely around the head and body. The long day was still not done and the crowd set the two police pick-up trucks ablaze blowing up the petrol tanks. Plumes of smoke rose into the darkening sky as the sun set.’

Praise for A Tiger

Journalists, politicians and award winning authors explain why A Tiger is a must read.

Rainsy’s Return

Rainsy returned from exile to be greeted by 100,000 people at the airport sparking protests.

Election Organisers

Are elections free and fair in Cambodia? Hear from the men (all men) who run them.

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