News / Asia

Tens of Thousands March in Cambodia Demanding Hun Sen Quit

Some of the tens of thousands of Cambodians who marched along Phnom Penh's Monivong Boulevard calling for Hun Sen to resign. (R. Carmichael/VOA)
Some of the tens of thousands of Cambodians who marched along Phnom Penh's Monivong Boulevard calling for Hun Sen to resign. (R. Carmichael/VOA)
Robert Carmichael
In Cambodia Sunday, tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to quit. The public outpouring of sentiment in recent months against the long-time leader is unprecedented, and has brought together opposition party supporters and many of Cambodia’s 400,000-strong garment workers.

Before leading the huge march through the streets of Phnom Penh, opposition leader Sam Rainsy told the crowd at Freedom Park in the city center that this is a historic day and that the will of the Cambodian people will prevail.

Rainsy said all Cambodians believe Hun Sen’s government is illegal, adding that the prime minister would hear their voice. He said everyone wants to see a change in leadership, and he called for fresh elections.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (white shirt, right), and deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha (left) wave to people watching the march in Phnom Penh, Dec. 29, 2013. (R. Carmichael/VOA)Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (white shirt, right), and deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha (left) wave to people watching the march in Phnom Penh, Dec. 29, 2013. (R. Carmichael/VOA)
x
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (white shirt, right), and deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha (left) wave to people watching the march in Phnom Penh, Dec. 29, 2013. (R. Carmichael/VOA)
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (white shirt, right), and deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha (left) wave to people watching the march in Phnom Penh, Dec. 29, 2013. (R. Carmichael/VOA)
​The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which Sam Rainsy leads, stunned the ruling party in July when it came close to winning the general election. The opposition has since claimed the election was stolen.

It initially sought an independent investigation into the ballot.

But Prime Minister Hun Sen - who has been in power for nearly three decades - rejected that, and talks between the two sides quickly stagnated.

The 55 opposition MPs-elect have refused to take up their seats in the 123-seat National Assembly. They want Hun Sen to quit and a second election held next year. Hun Sen has rejected both of those demands, too.

So for the past two weeks, the opposition has staged daily rallies and marches in Phnom Penh, drawing between a few thousand supporters and - on Sunday a week ago - as many as an estimated 40,000.

The march this Sunday saw even more people turn out. Counting crowds is a notoriously tricky task, but this march was clearly much larger than last week’s. Once again, the refrain was that Hun Sen must go.

Expressing such sentiments publicly in Cambodia even a year ago would have been unthinkable, and is indicative of how far the country’s political landscape has shifted.

The opposition has been boosted by wide segments of society: from civil servants fed up with low wages, to ordinary citizens tired of corruption, Buddhist monks speaking out against the senior clergy’s coziness to the ruling party, and garment workers, angry at the government’s announcement on Tuesday to raise the minimum wage from $80 a month to just $95.

Garment workers say that is not enough - with prices in the markets rising fast, as are rents. Many are forced to work overtime simply to make ends meet.

Touch is one of the protestors demanding that the minimum wage rises to $160. The 35-year-old Touch has worked for a decade in a factory that makes jeans for Levi-Strauss. She and her husband are able to send home a small monthly sum to her parents in the village who look after their two children.

She says there are two reasons she came Sunday. One is to have the minimum wage increased to $160. The other is for Hun Sen to step down.

Cambodia’s garment industry is the country’s key foreign exchange earner - worth more than $5 billion this year, mostly in exports to the U.S. and the European Union. The sector is also Cambodia’s biggest formal employer, with 400,000 workers.

But wages have not kept pace with inflation, and over the years the industry has been hit by hundreds of strikes. Last year saw more than half a million days lost to strike action; this year will likely see one million days lost, by far the worst in its two-decade-long history.

So it was little surprise that the announcement of the $15 raise saw tens of thousands of garment workers walk out. In response the trade body that represents the factory owners advised its 470 or so members to close, citing the risk of violence. Many have done so.

Although unions affiliated to the ruling party did back the pay rise, independent unions and those linked to the opposition rejected it. On Friday, leaders of the last two groups met senior officials at the Ministry of Labor to discuss new wages terms, while 2,000 workers blocked the road outside. They failed to reach a deal and are scheduled to meet again Monday.

Touch reckons a deal is at some point inevitable - but pledges that until one is concluded, she and her fellow workers will stay on strike.

She says she expects the government will find a solution for the workers, but doesn't know how long that will take.

The opposition continues to reap political capital from the dispute over the minimum wage. Earlier this past week, Sam Rainsy told workers they should stay on strike until they get $160 a month.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hong Ha from: Vietnam
January 07, 2014 12:32 AM
To: Chivansuy, Mario Grechi
I think both of you are not Cambodians and neither of you is living in Cambodia. If you would like to find of the truth about the crime of the Khmer Rough you can visit Cambodia to meet people there. Khmer Rough killed 30,000 Vietnamese innocent people and around 3 million Cambodians. Vietnam was the savior of Cambodia because Vietnam saved the rest of Cambodian people from being exterminated by Khmer Rough. Hun Sen is the person who overthew Khmer Rough regim with the help of Vietnam. At that time Sam Raisy escaped to a Western country for his safety. Western countries including the USA took no action to save the lives of millions of Cambodians because they supported Khmer Rough regime. They also protested Vietnam and placed embargo towards Vietnam for saving innocent Cambodians. So stop speading lies about the cowardly Sam Raisy. He is only a puppet of some western countries.
In Response

by: Chivansuy from: Long Beach
January 07, 2014 11:59 PM
Hong Ha, you don’t understand the history of the Khmer Rouge and who was the initial start of the Khmer Rouge and who is behind the Khmer Rouge genocide.

Ho Chi Minh trained and supported the Khmer Rouge since 1930 under Indochina Communist Party. Ho Chi Minh then started the Vietnam War and sent about 700,000 Viet Cong inside Cambodia that led US to drop about 2.8 million tons of bombs and killed about 2 million Cambodian people.
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/American_Empire/Nixon_Cambodia_LFE.html

When Viet Cong were inside Cambodia, they trained and helped the Khmer Rouge to power and when the Khmer Rouge defeated Lon Nol regime in 1975, they killed millions of innocent Cambodian people. All of these killings because of Ho Chi Minh/Viet Cong ambitions want to take Cambodia like they took South Viet Name( it belongs to Cambodia; it is my country).
http://www.ancient.eu.com/Khmer_Empire/

During Vietnamese communists occupied Cambodia between 1979 and 1989, they killed about 700,000 innocent Cambodian people. Now there are more than five million illegal Vietnamese immigrants are living freely in Cambodia with protection of Hun Sen-backed Hanoi. When Vietnamese population is more than Cambodian population, Vietnamese will kill Cambodian people like they did to the Cham people and take over Cambodian country.

Vietnamese killed all Cham people and took their country and erased it out from the global map.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champa

Vietnam committed a lot of crimes on the innocent human being.

by: Igor from: Russia
December 29, 2013 9:41 PM
Sam Rainsy is supported by some western countries because he is their son. Hun Sen is supported by China, Vietnam and others. The majority of Cambodian people support Hun Sen because Hun Sen saved millions of Campodians from the Khmer Rouge regime with the help of Vietnam. When the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia, the Coward Sam Rainsy fled to a western country for his safety without caring for his people. Hun Sen was the only person who risked himself to save his people. Now cambodia is in peace, Sam Rainsy is returning and asking for power so such coward man is unrealiable and his promiss of democacy is only a lie.
In Response

by: Chivansuy from: Long Beach
January 05, 2014 9:49 PM
Some of these Russian people like Igor are crazy people. Igor must be related to Joseph Stalin who starved about 7 millions of Ukrainians to death between 1932 and 1933 and that is why he/she is proud of supporting criminal people like Hun Sen. They all come from the same hole of hell. During the Vietnam War, this crazy Russian people that helped Ho Chi Minh/Viet Cong and Ho Chi Minh helped the Khmer Rouge to power; after the Khmer Rouge victory in 1975, about 2 millions innocent Cambodian people were slaughtered by this Ho Chi Minh/Khmer Rouge. Hun Sen was one of the Khmer Rouge commanders. Without these crazy people like the Russian, the Ho Chi Minh, and the Khmer Rouge Hun Sen that created the Vietnam War in the first place, there would not be any killings in Cambodia so Cambodian people don’t need anybody to liberate or save them, simple as that.

Igor, bad people will be rotten in hell by God. Learn to do good thing for others so you can be blessed. We in the West have a lot of choices for our daily life because we are blessed by God for doing good things to others. We also have crazy Russian Vodka here too.

Stop invading other countries, and be one of us so you can have many choices like us.
In Response

by: mario grechi from: canada
December 31, 2013 9:02 PM
Only a Russian could see Hun Sen as liberator of the Khmer people,Some countries will never know what it means to live in a democracy.Nationalism is poison.

by: Peter from: Stockton
December 29, 2013 3:36 PM
For free and fair and for peace and stability, Cambodia needs a new election as soon as possible. This will bring peace to everyone.

by: Chivansuy Dara from: Long Beach
December 29, 2013 2:38 PM
Mr. Hun Sen ruled Cambodia over 28 years and has many chances to do good things for Cambodian people, but he chose not to do it. Under Hun Sen corrupt power, millions of Cambodian people are getting poorer and some of them sold their kids to brothel for survival and some people become a beggar in Thailand while he and his regime enjoy corrupt billions of dollars. Hun Sen uses forces to evict hundreds of thousands people and sold their land for his/CPP pockets.

Mr. Hun Sen is one of former Khmer Rouge commanders who is responsible for slaughtering millions of innocent Cambodian people knows only how to do cruel things in his life. For these reasons, majority of Cambodian people don’t want to vote for him because they don’t like him. Hun Sen commits so many crimes and he has a lot of sin. Supporting sin people are an act of wanting to be that kind of sin people.

Because majority of Cambodian people call for change, they did not vote for Mr. Hun Sen/CPP so he did not win the July 28, 2013 election and he robbed it. He did not want to call for the immediate re-election or investigate the election fraud that requested by the opposition Sam Rainsy/CNRP because he knows that he is not going to win---majority supports Rainsy/CNRP.

Mr. Hun Sen. must step down /resigns so someone else can have a chance to lead Cambodia to improve the living conditions there so people there can enjoy and live in peace. Over 28 years of ruling is enough.

The People Power will change Hun Sen and his regime for sure at the end because majority of people are fed up with his cruelties as mentioned above.

by: Cranksy from: USA
December 29, 2013 1:36 PM
What does it mean to be affiliated with a political party in Cambodia? What occupations do the unions affiliated with the ruling party represent? Why did 2000 workers block the road where the independent unions and those unions affiliated with the opposition party met?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs