Gov’t’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with ‘colour rev­o­lu­tion’ re­veals mis­un­der­stand­ings

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary mind­set

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE - Ben Sokhean, An­drew Nachem­son and Shaun Tur­ton Anal­y­sis

WHEN a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial on Wed­nes­day said Cam­bo­dia would form a joint “think tank” with China to in­ves­ti­gate the root causes of “colour rev­o­lu­tions”, he ap­peared to be­tray not only the King­dom’s ac­cel­er­at­ing shift away from West­ern demo­cratic norms, but also an ap­par­ent mis­un­der­stand­ing of the move­ments them­selves.

The term “colour rev­o­lu­tion” – which refers to pop­u­lar protest move­ments that have top­pled regimes in the for­mer Soviet Bloc and Mid­dle East – has be­come a com­mon re­frain among gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and mem­bers of the se­cu­rity ser­vices, who have in­voked its spec­tre to jus­tify a more ag­gres­sive stance against dis­sent in the King­dom. The es­ca­lat­ing rhetoric cul­mi­nated this month with the ar­rest of op­po­si­tion leader Kem Sokha on charges of “trea­son”, al­legedly for con­spir­ing with the United States to fo­ment a colour rev­o­lu­tion.

How­ever, a close study of colour rev­o­lu­tions else­where re­veals a truth that Cam­bo­dian of­fi­cials ap­pear not to grasp: in tak­ing such a hard line against the phe­nom­e­non it­self, the Cam­bo­dian gov­ern­ment is of­ten draw­ing un­flat­ter­ing com­par­isons be­tween it­self and some of the most au­to­cratic regimes of the mod­ern era.

More specif­i­cally, in coun­tries where such move­ments CON­TIN­UED

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