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”

Southeast Asia Globe - - Editorial -

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).

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