PHNOM PENH & WASHINGTON DC —
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party began a three-day conference on Friday, to discuss party policies and restructuring.
The party’s honorary president, Heng Samrin, told party members CPP reforms are “unavoidable” if the party is to stay in power.
The CPP lost 22 National Assembly seats in the 2013 election—the equivalent of 2.56 million votes.
According to an internal party report, the loss was due to a host of problems in the public’s perception of the CPP: “nepotism, the gaps of policy enforcement, corruption, abuse, loss of confidence in the judicial system, inequality before the law, land grabbing, deforestation and questions of border and migration.”
The party is expected to adopt a new five-year plan at the end of the three-day congress.
“This congress has an important subject, which is reform that is vital for the nation and for the CPP,” Heng Samring told the conference. “Even though we still have absolute support from voters, on average, nationwide, we recognize that we decreased some of our seats, while the opposition increased their seats in the National Assembly. At this point, we have to lead a fundamental study for the cause, that will lead to results.”
The congress is expected to add more senior members from a younger generation of supporters. National and local party officials will also discuss political strategies for the next election. And leaders will decide whether to expand the party’s Central Committee—potentially with youth, including the sons of Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top CPP officials.
Planning documents show that the CPP still considers its major achievements that of maintaining peace and growing the country’s infrastructure. But it also acknowledges some weaknesses and a need for change.
“In the future, to uphold the strategy based on the quantity of the members and the good deeds of the party to win the election are not enough,” one document says. “To ensure victory and improve victory in the future, there should be adjustments to the strategy, such as, ‘based on the good deeds of the party officials, quality, and the quantity of the party members, to win.”