Dene Mullen, editor in chief
“Cambodia’s rural majority might not be that loyal after all – and discontent could be set to simmer over at the country’s local elections next month”
Received wisdom from observers of Cambodian politics has long been that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) enjoys broad popularity among the country’s rural majority, while the opposition hoovers up support from the more sophisticated folks found in the urban centres. Pastoral photo opps of Prime Minister Hun Sen digging a hole, kicking around a football with the local boys or cutting the ribbon on some eponymous school have long been thrust into the public consciousness, particularly in the buildup to elections. The masses, the rulers’ thinking supposedly goes, are so grateful for the relative peace of the past couple of decades and the occasional paved road that they will continue to turn out in their droves to vote for the CPP.
The reality, of course, is far more complicated. Firstly, to presume that Hun Sen has been in power for more than 30 years with such a limited understanding of the electorate is to underestimate his astute political sense. Secondly, as we found during our trip to Takeo province for this month’s cover feature, the rural majority might not be that loyal after all – and discontent could be set to simmer over at the country’s local elections next month (page 40).
Singaporean politicians have also found themselves in the spotlight in recent months thanks to the case of teenaged blogger Amos Yee. After being jailed twice in the city-state for posting unfettered political and racial views online, Yee fled to the US, where he was granted political asylum, igniting a nuanced debate about Singapore’s definition of ‘hate speech’ and the punishments meted out in its name (page 48). Elsewhere this month, we run the rule over the hugely popular Kalijodo public park in Jakarta, which rose from the rubble of the city’s largest red light district (page 54), and discover a delightful cross-cultural fashion project that links disabled Cambodian artisans with Aboriginal Australian artists (page 82).