Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Rights of Political Participation in Sangkum Reastr Niyum and Khmer Republic

Pannasastra University of Cambodia

The Rights of Political Participation in Sangkum Reastr Niyum and Khmer Republic

Course: The Human Rights and World Politics

Name: Im Meng

ID: 05418

Submit to Prof. Stan Staryging

Date: September 3, 2007



1. Introduction

2. Right to participate in Politics in Sangkum Reastr Niyum

2.1. Case Study

2.2. Right to participate in Khmer Republic

2.3. Comparison

3. Conclusion


After I learnt the course of Human Rights, this course made me interesting in the rights of the people in Cambodia and in the past this country that evolution from regime to regime until now. But, we can see the constitution of each regime has difference between the rights of human being such as: the right of life, the right to live, the right to educate, the right to believe in religion, the freedom of press and publication, the right to participate in community and right and duty of Khmer citizens in the both regime. In brief, there are many rights of human being, but here I would like to show the right political participation of people in Sangkum Reastr Niyum and Khmer Republic in this paper.

1. Introduction

In the constitution of Cambodia, they divided into sex regime after this country got the Independence from France in 1953, but Cambodian country has been prepared the constitution and cooperate to create this constitution since 1947.Then, for fifteen years, Prince Sihanouk and the Sangkum Reastr Niyum overshadowed Cambodian life. Because Sihanouk was removed from office by his own National Assembly in 1970, it is convenient, but misleading, to interpret this period in terms of his “decline,” a process that few observers noted at the time. Nonetheless, by 1966, Sihanouk had reached a turning point in his political career, and his grip on the political process had begun t weaken, along with his self-confidence. These changes can be linked to the intensification of the Vietnam War as well as to indigenous political factors. In any case, the Assembly elected in 1966, although allegedly made up of loyal Sangkum members, was the first since 1951 whose members the prince had not handpicked himself. In 1970 this Assembly voted Sihanouk out of office, and then General Lon Nol cover the government. Because of both regimes relate to each other, so I would like to compare the rights of people participate in politics in those societies.

2. Rights to participate in politics of Sangkum Reastr Niyum

As we know already, Sangkum Reastr Niyum created after France’s colonial; and got independence; this regime has the constitution by own self that divide into eleventh chapters and 121 articles. Now, we indicate the chapter two, article 3 that said about “Freedom, Right, and Duty of Khmer citizens[1], article3: Freedom is the process to do everything, but not to affect other people rights. Conditions are used the freedom has been recorded in laws. And the article: 13 People can get the position in the government, that has good qualification and ability, and no reason that, this people can and other can not. By this, people can joint the participation in all activities in society. So, for understanding about the actions in political participation under managed by Sihanouk’ regime. Even constitution said that, but in the living source showed that only most high rank of people and parties which easy to joint in political participation in Cambodia at that time. I give any case about the Assembly Election.

2.1. Case study

“Shanouk’s principal opponents in 1955, the Democrats, were driven from politics before the 1958 elections took place. Sihanouk’s vindictiveness toward this group is curious because by 1956, the party had virtually ceased to exist and nearly all its members had joined the Sangkum. Nonetheless, in September 1957, claiming that the Democrats were endangering his policies, Sihanouk summoned five leaders of the party to a debate on the grounds of the royal palace in Phnom Penh. Large crowds were assembled nearby, and the proceedings were broadcast over loudspeakers. Intimidated by the crowds, the Democrats were unable to voice any clear opinions, and after three hours of bullying by Sihanouk and his associates, they were allowed to leave. On their way out of the palace enclosure the were beaten by soldiers and police, and one of them was hospitalized. Over the next few says, thirty or forty people suspected of Democrat leanings were beaten in Phnom Penh, and before going overseas for a vacation, Sihanouk secretly decorated some of the soldiers involved in the palace beatings.1 Soon afterward, the Democratic Party dissolved itself and disappeared from the political scene.

In 1958, therefore, the only opposition to the Sangkum was the Pracheachon, which had gathered over twenty thousand votes in 1955.

In a foolhardy gesture, the group nominated a handful of candidates, but all but one withdrew before Election Day in the face of police repression. The remaining candidate, Keo Meas, earned 350 votes out several thousand casts in his electoral district. After the election he went underground to avoid arrest, and his candidacy marked the end of pluralistic electoral politics in Cambodia, except for a brief resurgence in the early 1970s.

And the other hand, the constitution and the history didn’t mention about the women rights participate in politics and in the government of Sihanouk’s regime. But, base on, David Chandler’s writing, we can see a positive point such as, Sihanouk also encouraged a certain amount of political participation and debate by means of so-call National Congresses, held twice a year outside the royal palace. In theory, any member of the Sangkum was welcome to attend these meetings and express political views. They dealt with uncontroversial issues, and like so much else in Cambodian life, they were stage-managed by the prince, whose policies were voted on by a show of hands. Moreover, in order to understand about the rights in political participation, let me to quote and describe in Khmer Republic’s to compare each other, whether which better than.”[2]

2.2. Rights to participate in politics of Khmer Republic

On 18 March 1970, under pressure from the Army, which was loyal to General Lon Nol and Prince Sirik Matak, who had prepared the Coup d’Etat, the two Houses of Parliament voted unanimously to dismiss Prince Norodom Sihanouk as Head of State. By the end of April, this country changed the leaders group, and then to promote the renaissance and renewed advancement of our national culture, to solemnly proclaim our steadfast devotion to the fundamental principles stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR], to promote both political and social democracy in which all exploitation of man by man, oppression, and intolerance shall be forbidden for the happiness and prosperity of all Khmers, to defend our republican system against any attempt to restore the monarchy and against any establishment of personal power, to preserve national territorial integrity, independence and unity. We, the Khmer people, always faithful to our ideals of peace, do hereby reaffirm:

Our aspirations for a lasting peace in the world, and our determination to co-operate actively with all nations, without distinction as to race, religion, or political system, for the purpose of progress and peace. For comparing above, I quote some articles to show, in chapter one, article 4 “Political parties may be freely organized. However, the State shall encourage every effort to reduce the number of political parties in order to achieve a two- party system”[3], American style and it’s seemed to be above, because of, not too much party to compete with these. And we can see in chapter 2, articles 8 and 9 said “The freedoms of association and assembly are acknowledged for all citizens. The exercise thereof shall not be restricted unless it is established that such exercise infringes upon the freedoms guaranteed by this Constitution”[4] and “The State shall ensure all citizens free exercise of their political rights, including those of protest and public opposition, provided that those rights are exercised without violence and in a legal manner.”[5], and we can see the another article in constitution said, all powers shall be derived from the people. The executive, legislative, and judicial powers shall be exercised in conformity with the provisions of this Constitution. Furthermore, the rights above, people really participate in political rights by free and fair. However, any point tells us about women rights in political participation. Therefore, we should be compared both of the rights here.

2.3. Comparisions

If we look back in the history of both societies, we see that, Sangkum Reastr Niyum or Sihanouk’s regime has the period longer than Khmer Republic, thus the standard of living of people and how to make law about the rights really better than Khmer Republic, but how to commit not really better than Khmer Republic, otherwise, why does coup d’etat happen in?. On the other hand, the old generations still like Sangkum Reastr Niyum. Even though, the constitutions of both societies to permit people to participate in politics, the same actions.

But, they only follow their leader, or association and community, especially both regimes did not talked about the rights of women participated in the politics and did not talked and did not talked gender as well, this is the fundamental of human being that has from their born, also rights to participate in politics, include, freedom of express in the public forum, and right to travel to everywhere, but in the history and constitutions in both societies no safe for Khmer citizens to participate in politics by free and fair, mean that every narrow for rights of people.

3. Conclusion

Rights to participate in politic is the purpose of the most people in the world, because of, we want to develop the country, we should be had good policy for practicing to influence. Also, we have to participate in public from people for adjusting or changes what not develop and make to progress in society, mean that , please make satisfy for all citizens in Cambodia.

In brief, rights to participate in politics in both Sangkum Reastr Niyum and Khmer Republic were not very broad for Khmer citizens to take chance enough to participate in politic, because of this country fall in civil war, since, got independence to civil war, so the leaders often busy with their enemy, they really lack the time to push and develop all field, especially rights to join in politic of Khmer citizens, but rights had been left at that time really give Cambodian people a good lesson, example, and experience to prepare in the presence time.

In my opinion, rights to political participation is very important of human being in Cambodia, because it’ll give people a chance to share with the main problem in society and manage their country by the democracy that most countries are committing in the world. And if we con not communicate or work to each other in our society, how can we contact with other countries or United Nations that respect the human rights.


1/ Khim Y, Phd, Cambodian Constitution, (1947 – 1993) 1st Ed, 1997

2/ Jennar Raoul M., Cambodian Constitutions (1953 – 1993), 1st Ed, 1995

3/ CHANDLER DAVID, History of Cambodia, Assembly Election, pp 191-192, 2nd, 1996

[1] Cambodian Const. Sangkum Reastr Nyum., Chap. 2, Art. 3, p 86, 1st Ed, 1997

[2] (Quoted from: DAVID CHANDLER, History of Cambodia, pp 191-192, 2nd, 1996

[3] Cambodian Const. Khmer Republic, Chap. I, Art. 4, p 59, White Lotus, Co., Ltd.; Bangkok, 1995

[4] Ibid, Chap II, Art. 8 & 9, p 60

[5] Ibid


moen savoeun said...

Hello Bong Meng!

Because you experience in the Sangkum Reastr Niyum and Khmer's Republic, did the practices conform to the constitution? Did the constitutions provide enough rights to ensure political participants?

Stan Starygin said...



Since more than 50% of this paper is "lifted" text, I refuse to grade. I believe I had made the school's policy on academic honesty very clear in class.