It’s election season again, and if you believe “international experts”, “human rights organisations” or “the European Union” you might think that your vote is less important than ever. That’s kind of true: we’ve outlawed the opposition party, jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha, muzzled the independent press and run Sam Rainsy the Perpetually Skittish out of town (again). But there’s more to voting than choosing the leader of our Kingdom! Your vote might not have any impact on “who wins” or “which party controls parliament”, but your experience on election day can create lasting memories and burnish the CPP’s thin, gleaming patina of legitimacy!
With that in mind, here are some tips on how you can turn foregone conclusions into fun for your whole family.
Find some spies!
In the past, random wackos would post Facebook photos of people wearing conical hats at polling stations as evidence of Vietnamese ballot fraud. Now, we all know that’s just racism, but don’t let that stop you from finding, reporting and lightly beating actual foreign interlopers!
If it hadn’t been for sharp-eyed citizens, we never would have caught world-famous Australian spy James Ricketson, whose reputation as a harmless socks-and-sandals-wearing drone aficionado belied his core mission to conduct detailed surveillance on troop movements and tank locations to send back to Canberra and, as Australian spies have done in many other countries I will not name around the world, set up the paintbrushes of anti-democratic radicalism for a colour revolution.
Keep your eyes peeled for cargo shorts, sunburns and people wearing military-style clothes who’ve obviously never beheaded anyone with a machete. They may also be carrying those small notebooks that only spies use, or shooting “photos” with laser targeting devices that look like second-hand cameras. If you see something, beat someone!
Get to know your fellow voters
Foreign interlopers are trying to get all up in our sovereignty by saying this election is a “sham” or a “farce”, just because we’ve made it nearly impossible for any opposition to pose a threat to the CPP. But we’ve paid a ton of people a lot of money to vote this year, and that means you’re going to be waiting in line.
But queuing up doesn’t have to be a drag! Chat to the folks in line with you! Talk about your families, your favourite songs, your ways of coping with the fact that you have absolutely no agency in your life! You’ve all got the CPP’s loving despotism in common, and those conversations can make the hours you’ll probably spend in line go by in a flash! And if your neighbour expresses misgivings about our benevolent dictatorship, there will be plenty of super-convenient, democracy-enforcing thought police on hand to usher these stinkin’ thinkers to high-security polling places designed to helpfully bring these Sad Samnangs around, one cattle prod at a time, for years on end.
Pretend you can’t see the ghosts haunting your polling place
Everyone knows that ghosts love an election. So if the ghost of, say, Kem Ley floats up and says, “Ooooo, let me tell you a parable about a monkey who voted for the CPP just because they paid him 20,000 riel, but then a cow pointed out the error of his ways”, just ignore him, like you did when he was alive! Chea Vichea’s ghost might tell you that the fate of the nation’s workers is in your hands, or Spectral Chut Wutty might blame our coming environmental apocalypse on your apathy, but pay no mind.
There’s a reason you’re still alive and they’re just haunting reminders of decades of injustice, and that reason is your dogged insistence on maintaining a status quo that is, on balance, probably better than genocide.
Try to figure out which ink is poisoned
This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you see folks breaking out in hives before sweating profusely, vomiting and then dropping dead, use the other ink. That’s just common sense in any democracy.
Chat to an election monitor
A lot of the Nervous Nellies who normally whine about our elections have decided not to monitor this vote, so we’ve brought in a crapload of monitors from China who’ll be on hand to make sure everything’s on the up-and-up (just like the democratic elections in Beijing). So don’t be shy — say hi! Tell them how happy you are to see them safeguarding our kleptocracy! Let them know how excellent it is that our forests, deep-water ports and any other valuable resources will eventually be handed over as collateral for development loans that we can never possibly hope to repay.
Who knows? The election monitor you befriend on election day might eventually be the whip-wielding overseer who monitors your back-breaking manual labour when our whole Kingdom is just one big rubber plantation. Wouldn’t that be a happy coincidence?
Now’s your chance. Look at the list of parties, realise there’s only one real choice and mark that ballot! Savour that sweet feeling of democratic paralysis!
Vote a couple of times — we don’t care! Feel free to exclaim, “Hun Sen is my only choice!” or “I might as well vote for the CPP, since every ballot can be traced back to the voter, and wrong-thinkers will be punished!” Savour the agency you have in your destiny, and say a silent thanks to the unwavering support of the Japanese government, who helped make the ballot boxes and this mockery of democracy possible.
Show everyone your Freedom Finger
OK, you’ve cast your vote. Great job! But the fun doesn’t stop there.
Now you’ve got at least a day to show off your ink-stained Freedom Finger to friends, relatives and co-workers, not to mention the police at the friendly Freedom Finger checkpoints we’re setting up across the Kingdom to ensure that everyone exercises their total and complete freedom to vote for the CPP. Then just sit back, relax and watch as we reward everyone in Cambodia with another five years of all the greatness, equality and unwavering commitment to everyday Cambodians that you’ve come to expect. Have fun with that!