Lessons from Cambodia

We went to a street in Phnom Penh where 50,000 to 80,000 supporters of the main opposition party, Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) flooded the venue, braving a scorching 35 degree celcius to support their candidates led by Kem Sokha.

The support was overwhelming and the atmosphere made me shed a tear as I reminisced both 2011 and 2015 General Elections and the 2016 Bukit Batok By-Election where I was heavily involved with the campaign and led the Stage Management team at the nights of the rally and that feeling of butterflies in my stomach at the rally in Phnom Penh was evident.

I was in Cambodia attending a CALD (Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats) workshop on ‘Dealing with the Media’ with my party colleagues Matthew Tan and Janis Zhang.

With a voter turnout of nearly 90% accounting for a near 8 million voters, CNRP managed to garner 46% of votes while the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) led by Hun Sen hit home at 51%.

But missing from this Commune Elections is popular opposition leader Sam Rainsy who was forced to leave the country and retire from Cambodian politics after several criminal defamation suits were filed against him.

The CPP government is no stranger to violent politics. Through the years Hun Sen has overthrown elected government officials and murdered those who opposed him. Despite this, however, Cambodians were not cowed; hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the street in this election to openly show their support to parties and leaders challenging the CPP.

Maybe one day we in Singapore can get to experience the same unity and pick up the courage to be on the streets with our fellow Singaporeans showing our support and solidarity to an alternative party like SDP that will represent the voice of the people in parliament.

As eye-opening as the election activities were, the focus of our visit was the workshop on the media. A diverse group participants from Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mongolia, Cambodia and Singapore took part in discussions on how to use the social media effectively and responsibly especially with the trend of fake and distorted news growing.

Fake news is not a new thing because since the late 1800s, it was used to deliberately spread misinformation or hoaxes via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.

Fake news started out with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with the use of exaggerated and false headlines that grab attention to mislead the naive.

But we need to come together to counter this with the truth and to do this is to question the legitimacy of the news and find out from relevant sources instead of sharing it blindly on social media.

The solution, however, is not to come up with more rules to crack down on social media as the PAP is presently doing. The best way forward is to empower truth-tellers by calling out the lies through a free, open and responsible press.

Whether it’s Cambodia or the other countries in the region that have come through years under dictatorial rule, the one thing that I learned from this trip is that nothing is impossible if we keep on trying.

This is what we want to achieve at SDP – to speak truth to power and uphold the principles that this party has embraced over the years; persevering through struggles and unpropitious circumstances to speak up for Singaporeans.

Jufri Salim

*Jufri Salim is a member of SDP’s CEC and the Young Democrats.



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12 Responses to “Lessons from Cambodia”

  • Amos humiliate L*L and PAP:

    As along as PAP controls the media and the courts, “cheats” during elections and deprives Singaporeans of basic freedoms peaceful change is almost impossible. More likely there will blood on the streets to get PAP out of power.

    GD Star Rating
  • HongLim Park this Sat at 5pm!:

    Make your presence felt if you want to send a LOUD SIGNAL to Gahment.

    If not, OUR VOICES (regular mrt breakdowns, price increases, injustice and inequality and many many more) WILL NEVER BE HEARD!

    Be a RESPONSIBLE SINGAPOREAN, support the event (Clarke Quay MRT), we need a LOUD SIGNAL to WAKE UP the PAP Gahment!

    See you there!

    GD Star Rating
  • LIONS:

    Cambodians have gone through atrocities like the “KILLING FIELDS” n they treasure their citizen n human rights unlike even young educated sgs who only go for cheap election lollies myopically.

    Cambodians,though backward economically,are much more aware socially n culturally.
    They value true education n not just academic pursuits.

    Our young,despite receiving good education seems nonchalant about social issues.

    Despite the OPPO SGS’ efforts n sacrifices,young educated sgs dare scorn at them.

    If the young do not treasure their citizen rights,woe to them if they get marginalised sooner than they think.

    GD Star Rating
  • Kim Jong Loong:

    Sg’s hope and future greatly and truly depends in our more educated youth. That’s why G was smart enough to make a step fast to convert as many 3rd world citizens as possible to win confirmed votes for the pap in the future.

    Present lot of native singaporeans who are eligible to vote mostly prefer prosperity to freedom. So let’s educate our children about our rights and freedom and we can make sg great again.

    GD Star Rating
  • Ah Fah:

    Who are the speakers this Sat?

    GD Star Rating
  • rukidding:

    in another 20years time, Singapore would have “no choice” but to “return” back to Malaysia !

    Sorry to New Citizens, you will go back to your “original” land…..”empty handed” !

    GD Star Rating
  • Nizhemoshou:

    Yes pap want more rules to crackdown on fake news in social media . But the problem as KJ had put it , to pap it is fake news if it is not coming from them.

    Rue the day when the rules come as social media will then be turned into the equivalent of pap 154 ranked prostitute press ie dearth of true but unfavourable news to pap but flourish with fake news from pap.

    GD Star Rating
  • Keff:

    When shanmugam gets his law on fake news thru,
    we will be Drowned with fake news. This is
    becos the govt controls the mainstream press
    and the biggest purveyor of fake news is…
    the government!!

    One has only to look at govt anncts. Take train
    breakdowns — some breakdowns are not announced,
    often the anncts of breakdowns state shorter
    delays than what is. Then there are the weird
    reasons for making wee kim wee the 1st elected
    prez; the reasons for making the PM’s personal
    lawyer the AG; the unusual results of polls, like
    train reliability has improved; baffling claims
    such as u can buy an HDB flat with a $1k salary;
    why water prices must rise 30%; poor people
    collect cardboard for exercise; the elderly get
    adequate financial and medical help; Spore was
    a swamp/fishing village in 1965…
    Disturbingly, the list is never-ending!

    GD Star Rating
  • President Lincoln says:

    “If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” (1854)

    GD Star Rating
  • NotMyProblem:

    Ah Fah:
    Who are the speakers this Sat?

    It doesn’t matter even there is no speakers!! Just go there to meet the 30% and maybe some of the 70%. I’m sure amongst the 70%, some might have woken up by the Oxley saga. They are welcome.

    So see all of you there! Remember Hong Lim Park (15/7/2017) at 4:00pm.

    GD Star Rating
  • Singapore no hope:

    Why protest? why go against the tide? 70% wanted this… let them have it.

    For the rest 30%, just make your migration plan!

    GD Star Rating
  • 'VIP' to speak at HLP on 15/7:

    Come and listen from the horses mouth!

    No wayang and no drama!

    Biggest crowd at HLP expected!

    Hear for yourself; the truth and nothing but the truth!

    For your info, CNA won”t be there and The Shit Times won’t be covering the event!

    GD Star Rating

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