The rule enforcement of both regimes is practically absolute; they control the government, national assembly, court, and media. Victims of the Khmer Rouge have no recourse whatsoever. Though the current regime claims its rule of law is based on a promise of the separation of powers, there are too many instances to indicate it exists only on paper. Perhaps, the only difference between these two democracies is the magnitude of the brutality they inflict on their victims.In many aspects, similarities between the regime of the Khmer Rouge and that of the current government are rather striking. The main commonality is their overwhelming voracity for displaying their power, especially when their adversaries are weak, unorganised, or disorganised.
Both regimes justify their power grip with a type of democracy that cannot be allowed to be anarchic. The Khmer Rouge calls its regime Democratic Kampuchea and enforces its rule of law that tolerates no opposition whatsoever, real or imagined. The current regime’s commitment to its brand of democracy is unwavering. In his defence of the recent lifting of the immunity of two opposition parliamentarians, prime minister Hun Sen says, “[The] two lawmakers are stripped of their immunities... for the court to prosecute them. From now on we are strengthening democracy and the rule of law, this is not an anarchic democracy.” He insists, “Democracy must have the rule of law.”
The rule enforcement of both regimes is practically absolute; they control the government, national assembly, court, and media. Victims of the Khmer Rouge have no recourse whatsoever. Though the current regime claims its rule of law is based on a promise of the separation of powers, there are too many instances to indicate it exists only on paper. Perhaps, the only difference between these two democracies is the magnitude of the brutality they inflict on their victims.
They resort to all means, including murder, to silence dissenters. While Democratic Kampuchea uses tortures to extract from victims confessions it knows all along to be false, the current regime has lately come to favour the court system it controls to corner its target victims. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy had to apologise and promise not to accuse Hun Sen anymore of masterminding the March 1997 grenade attacks, before the government withdrew lawsuits making way for his return from exile. More recently, lawyer Kong Sam Onn sends Hun Sen his apologies after being hounded by his peer group and the prime minister out of representing opposition parliamentarian Mu Sochua in a defamation case filed by the prime minister. Kong Sam Onn also applies for CPP membership, which offers invaluable protection for his legal practice and livelihood. Opposition newspaper editor Dam Sith has just begged Hun Sen for forgiveness and freedom from all pending government lawsuits; in return, he promises to cease his publication.
Another similarity is that both regimes underestimate the unknown amidst such a raw display of internal power. Prime minister Hun Sen observes that foreigners have now become spokesmen for the opposition party, especially in the issue of land grabbing and people displacement. He may not realise, however, that the screw he puts on Cambodia is so tight that someone will stand up for the people. Hun Sen seems to forget that the Khmer Rouge regime was so totalitarian that he himself turned to a foreign intervention that many believe has remained his power base until now. Pol Pot shared the same oversights, and had to subsequently pay dearly for it.
Ung Bun Ang
“Two buttocks of one bum.”
Attributed to: Thomas Sturge Moore (1870–1944), British poet, wood- engraver, and illustrator. Referring to Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton.