Flame Flickers for Candlelight Party, Martial Artists Clinch SEA Gold, Three-legged Elephant Entrances Internet
Good morning, Cambodia. It's Friday, May 5, and this is your Weekly Dispatch.
HARD LUCK: The Candlelight Party just can’t catch a break. A paperwork mishap threatens to eliminate them from the July election and their vice president was hit with another dubious lawsuit.
GOLD GOALS: The 2023 Southeast Asian Games officially begin tonight. This is Cambodia's first time as host and Hun Sen expects the public to attend, tune in, or otherwise support a moment of true national pride.
TORTURED TALES: Chinese gangsters are still a problem in Sihanoukville months after a highly publicized government crackdown. Some are operating in hotels and casinos linked to a local business tycoon.
Has the Candlelight movement been snuffed out?
A last-minute rule change will stop the opposition Candlelight Party from competing in July’s national elections — unless an 11th-hour reprieve comes in from the government-aligned National Election Committee.
The deadline for registration is Monday. The new policy requires original party documents issued by the Ministry of Interior — papers the Candlelighters say were confiscated during a 2017 police raid on the group’s predecessor, the CNRP. A ministry spokesperson called the missing documents a pretext to hide internal conflicts over naming their prime minister candidate.
The party’s sudden exit would put an exclamation point on the CPP’s assumed dominance in the July 23 vote, which the ruling party will almost certainly win in a Himalayan-scale landslide.
The government has concluded its case against Chhim Sithar, the NagaWorld union leader who was jailed for organizing protests against the billion-dollar casino chain.
Prosecutors called her demonstrations illegal because they were held without government permission, although no law requires such approval. They described her as a political agitator funded by foreign donors.
The prime minister, in a Labor Day speech, heralded the Kingdom’s labor progress and appealed to the union’s overseas supporters to cut off their financial support.
The popular labor boss faces two years in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted. A verdict is expected May 25.
The Kingdom capped a historic opening week to the Southeast Asian Games with medals in jiu jitsu and kun bokator.
A record-breaking 579 awards are up for grabs in 37 sports, including unusual events like arnis, teqball and chinlone. A ticket hotline has been set up for foreigners. Several legit stars are competing, and Cambodia has predicted a record medal haul.
An extravagant opening ceremony is planned for 6:30 p.m. tonight at Morodok Techo National Stadium. The event and most big games will be broadcast on giant screens around the capital. Road access to venues will be restricted. Expect traffic.
The Strongman accused an unnamed group of overseas Cambodians of plotting to overthrow his government. Agents discovered the so-called plan while eavesdropping on the group’s online chats. Hun Sen's team released a one-minute excerpt of a discussion on a need to “prevent problems,” but little else.
Thach Setha, a Candlelight Party vice president, was charged with incitement to provoke social chaos over comments made during a speech last year in Japan. The opposition leader has been imprisoned since January for allegedly writing bad checks. Rights groups called both charges politically motivated.
The Kingdom will spend nearly $1 billion on three new container terminals at Sihanoukville port. The project, scheduled for completion in 2030, is expected to turn the port into a regional shipping hub.
Tales of kidnapping and torture continue to emerge from hotels and casinos linked to the notorious K99 Group, which is owned by a business magnate with close ties to the government. Authorities said police were investigating.
The boss of the Football Federation of Cambodia promised to resign if the men’s team fails to make it into the semi-finals of the Southeast Asian Games. The team currently trails Indonesia in Group A. They face Myanmar on Sunday and Indonesia on Wednesday.
Bicycle exports are on pace for a record-breaking year. Sales jumped nearly 20% in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year, equal to a bit more than $275 million. The Kingdom earned nearly $1 billion on bikes in 2022.
A three-legged Ratanakiri elephant captured the hearts and minds of social media after being fitted with a prosthetic limb. Chhouk, the 15-year-old Asian pachyderm, will require 19 more prosthesis, one every six months until he stops growing at 25.
BACKPAGES: From The Cambodia Daily Vault
Escaped Crocodiles Reported on Mekong
April 30, 2003
Rumors of crocodiles lurking in the Mekong River did not keep farmers in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district from wading waist-high into the river to clean cattle or wash soybeans Tuesday afternoon.
Officials’ Concern Split Over Hit-Style Killings
April 30, 2003
Official responses to the recent rash of professional-style killings in Phnom Penh were split on Tuesday, with some police officers saying the situation is better than previous election years.
US Rebukes Government Over Forest Monitor
April 28, 2003
The US State Department blasted the Cambodian government Friday for firing the independent forestry monitor Global Witness last week, citing the failure of the government to live up to its earlier promises of forest reforms.
A walk in the jungle with naturalist Jeremy Holden
The freelance conservation photographer has spent decades documenting Cambodia’s natural wonders, finding new species along the way. In this free-roaming Q&A, he talks about why he won't use insect repellant and how a passion for frogs shaped his latest work.
Halting Recovery of Cambodia’s Real Estate Sector Risks Credit Shortage
The pandemic brought an end to a years-long real estate and construction boom in Cambodia and the market’s ongoing recovery is being undermined by global financial challenges.
An Australian Who Worked to Restore Cambodian Culture Dies at 76
The passing of Darryl Collins is seen as “a great loss” for Cambodia.
Photos: Jessa Khan, via AKP. Football, via Hun Sen’s Facebook page.
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