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Any Opposition Must Have Vision: Observers

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the second in a two-part series examining the opposition.]

While the next opposition party may be difficult to predict ahead of July’s elections, political observers and analysts say the next opposition should have clear and specific guidelines to resolve problems for the people and the nation.

The Sam Rainsy Party has followed an opposition mandate since 1998. The party grew from 15 National Assembly seats then to 24 in 2003. Party leader Sam Rainsy has said he expects to take enough seats in this election to be the ruling party, a prediction Cambodian People’s Party officials reject.

Lao Mong Hay, a rights activist and political observer for the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, said Wednesday the next opposition should have influence and ideals, as well as ideas for the country.

The opposition will have to monitor the ruling government’s acts, he said.

“They should be prepared,” he said, “and they should be officially recognized by the National Assembly to be a big opposition party after the ruling party.”

Yong Kim Eng, president of the Center for People’s Development and Peace, agreed.

“The opposition party should think about freedom and the interests of the people, especially the problems that have happened but have been ignored by the ruling party, the opposition should push the government [to solve these],” he said.

The opposition field for this election is open to competing parties such as Funcinpec, Norodom Ranariddh, Human Rights and Sam Rainsy.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay told VOA Khmer the role of the opposition should be to fill gaps the ruling government can’t and to offer constructive criticism.

“I wish to see the opposition join together to be strong, and the party will have to fulfill [a role] of government to build up the country,” he said.

Keat Sokhun, deputy director of the Human Rights Party’s steering committee, said the opposition should respect democratic principles and follow up on government actions.

“We do not oppose without giving some advice to the government,” he said.