Measures for Measures

My dear Kacvey,

In order to facilitate your students’ studies and understanding of the international effect on the anti-constitutional and illegal decisions followed by barbarous actions that the autocracy has taken in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk to murder Cambodia’s democracy and rule of law, and to crash and dissolve the opposition party, below is the series of concrete measures so far taken by different governments and international organizations:

In view of the decision by the Cambodian Supreme Court on 16 November to order the dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the European Commission has decided to suspend its assistance to the National Election Committee.

The European Union was glad to support the electoral process that led to Cambodia’s commune/sangkat elections on 4 June 2017, which were widely recognised as having been professionally run by the National Election Committee and as having reached high standards of transparency and credibility. The high voter turnout was a signal of confidence in the electoral system, and the outcome of the elections has been seen as reflecting the will of the voters.

Since then, however, a series of actions has been taken by the authorities against the main opposition party, which won 44.5% of the vote in the 2013 legislative election and 43.8% in the 2017 local election. The decision to dissolve the CNRP, and the subsequent reallocation of its National Assembly and commune/sangkat council seats to other parties denies the choice of those who voted for the party in the elections in 2013 and 2017.

The dissolution of the CNRP also means that it will not be able to run in the National Assembly election in 2018. An electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded cannot be seen as legitimate.

  • On 6 December, the U.S. State Department issued a statement on visa restrictions on individuals responsible for undermining Cambodian democracy:

Press Statement
Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 6, 2017

As the White House stated in a November 16, press statement, the United States is taking concrete steps to respond to the Cambodian government’s actions that have undermined the country’s progress in advancing democracy and respect for human rights. These actions—which run counter to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991 that ended a tragic conflict and accorded the Cambodian people democratic rights—include the dissolution of the main opposition political party and banning of its leaders from electoral politics, imprisonment of opposition leader Kem Sokha, restriction of civil society, and suppression of independent media.

In direct response to the Cambodian government’s series of anti-democratic actions, we announce the Secretary of State will restrict entry into the United States of those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia. In certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions.

We call on the Cambodian government to reverse course by reinstating the political opposition, releasing Kem Sokha, and allowing civil society and media to resume their constitutionally protected activities. Such actions could lead to a lifting of these travel restrictions and increase the potential for Cambodia’s 2018 electoral process to regain legitimacy.

We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary, while maintaining our close and enduring ties with the people of Cambodia.

RESOLUTION – Reaffirming the commitment of the United States to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Cambodia.

Whereas Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power in Cambodia since 1985 and is the longest-serving leader in Southeast Asia;

Whereas the Paris Peace Accords in 1991 provided a vital framework, supported by the international community, intended to help Cambodia undertake a transition to democracy, including through elections and multiparty government;

Whereas the United States Government, for more than 25 years, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid and other types of assistance to the people of Cambodia and funded work in areas including civil society, capacity building for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), global health, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal;

Whereas despite decades of international attention and assistance to promote a pluralistic, multi-party democratic system in Cambodia, the Government of Cambodia continues to be undemocratically dominated by the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP), which controls every agency and security apparatus of the state;

Whereas the leadership of Cambodia’s security forces, including all of its top military and police commanders, sit on the Central Committee of the Politburo of the CPP;

Whereas the CPP controls Cambodia’s parliament and can pass legislation without any opposition, and has often passed laws that benefit its rule and weaken the capacity of the opposition to challenge it;

Whereas each of the five elections that have taken place in Cambodia since 1991 were not conducted in circumstances that were free and fair, and each were marked by fraud, intimidation, violence, and the government’s misuse of legal mechanisms to weaken opposition candidates and parties;

Whereas in 2015, the CPP-controlled parliament passed the “Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations”, known as LANGO, which gave the government sweeping powers to revoke the registration of NGOs found to be operating with a political bias in a blatant attempt to restrict the legitimate work of civil society;

Whereas since the passage of LANGO, the Interior Ministry has announced that it was surveilling several civil society organizations and their employees for allegedly aiding Cambodia’s opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP);

Whereas the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), and other nongovernmental organizations that advance United States policy objectives abroad have a long history in Cambodia and respect unique cultural, historical, and religious differences when promoting policies, engaging local partners, and building capacity for civil society, democracy, and good governance;

Whereas, on August 23, 2017, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered the closure of NDI and the expulsion of its foreign staff on allegations that it had violated LANGO and was conspiring against Prime Minister Hun Sen;

Whereas, on September 15, 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the withdrawal of all volunteers from the United States Peace Corps, which has operated in Cambodia since 2006 with 500 United States volunteers providing English language and healthcare training;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia in 2016 arrested four senior staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), as well as a former ADHOC staff member and official on the National Election Committee (NEC), and held them in pre-trial detention for 427 days until released on bail on June 29, 2017, in the wake of sustained international pressure;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia arrested activist and women’s rights defender Tep Vanny in August 2016 and has kept her in prison for over a year;

Whereas the prominent Cambodian political commentator Kem Ley was assassinated on July 10, 2016, five days after a senior Cambodian general publicly called on the Cambodian Armed Forces to “eliminate and dispose of” anyone “fomenting social turmoil” in Cambodia;

Whereas Kem Ley had been a frequent critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen, fueling concerns that his killing was politically motivated and ordered by higher authorities;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia has taken several measures to restrict its media environment, including imposing a tax bill amounting to millions of dollars levied against independent media outlets that resulted in the closure of independent newspaper The Cambodian Daily in early September 2017;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia has ordered several radio stations to stop the broadcasting of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America;

Whereas the next general election in Cambodia is scheduled for July 29, 2018, and the CPP continues to use intimidation and misuse of legal mechanisms to weaken political opposition and media organizations in order to retain its power;

Whereas the Cambodian parliament in 2017 passed two repressive amendments to Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties that allow authorities to dissolve political parties and ban party leaders from political activity, and which contain numerous restrictions tailored to create obstacles for opposition parties in an attempt to maintain the CPP’s hold on power;

Whereas Kem Sokha, the President of CNRP, was arrested on September 3, 2017, and charged with treason and conspiring with the United States Government to overthrow the Government of Cambodia, and if convicted faces up to 30 years in prison, which sets the stage for the CNRP to be dissolved;

Whereas the United States Embassy in Cambodia has publicly called for the immediate release of Mr. Sokha and the removal of restrictions on civil society;

Whereas the CNRP’s previous leader, Sam Rainsy, remains in exile due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in a politically motivated criminal case;

Whereas Human Rights Watch reported that local elections held in Cambodia on June 4, 2017, took place in a “threatening environment hostile to free speech and genuine political participation, leading to elections that were neither free nor fair”;

Whereas international election monitoring groups reported fundamental flaws in the electoral process and violations of Cambodia’s election campaign rules during June’s local election;

Whereas the Interior Ministry of Cambodia demanded that two election-monitoring organizations cease their activities just months after the local elections for allegedly violating the LANGO law, which will allow the CPP to continue to increase restrictions on election monitoring as the 2018 national elections approach;

Whereas despite irregularities in the electoral process, the CNRP made significant gains in local elections compared to previous cycles, making clear that national elections in 2018, if they are conducted freely and fairly, will be tightly contested; and

Whereas national elections in 2018 will be closely watched to ensure openness and fairness, and to monitor whether all political parties and civil society groups are allowed to freely participate: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate:
(1) reaffirms the commitment of the United States to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Cambodia;
(2) condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, and urges the cessation of ongoing human rights violations;
(3) urges Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party to end all harassment and intimidation of Cambodia’s opposition and foster an environment where democracy can thrive and flourish;
(4) urges the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Department of State, to consider placing all senior Cambodian government officials implicated in the abuses noted above on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list;
(5) urges the Government of Cambodia to free Mr. Kem Sokha immediately and unconditionally;
(6) calls on the Government of Cambodia to respect freedom of the press and the rights of its citizens to freely assemble, protest, and speak out against the government; and
(7) supports electoral reform efforts in Cambodia and free and fair elections in 2018 monitored by international observers.

Are the above international reactions and retaliations lex talionis? Cambodian democracy has no price and the blind autocrat is not its owner. Cambodians own their democracy and so doing they exercise the ownership through the respect of rule of law. Collective retaliatory measures are the only weapons to uproot despotism: measures for measures.

The Forty Four Scums

My dear Kacvey,

Have you seen any scam walking around in your neighborhood? Because 44 of them have been seen entering the national assembly to take over the seats anti-constitutionally to pretend to represent more than 3 millions people who never ever voted for them.

Merriam-Webster defines scum as a low, vile, or worthless person or group of people. Such a person is regarded as a despicable and shameless element of society.

So the banana state not only that it is run by an autocrat that concentrates all 3 powers in his hands (legislative, executive and judiciary) it now has scums as legislators who in cahoots with the autocrat will transform the state into an absolute despotism.

If your students wondered why politics in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk has reached such a low-level of putridity and rottenness, please refer them to Noteworthy News page that extensively archives the flow of events and particularly this article by Geoffrey Cain in The Nation. However, it is hoped that none of your students has anything to do, be it family or friendship or business relationship, with these 44 scums because, if he/she had, what and how would she/he behave in front of millions of honest and law-abiding citizens who abhor such a public and anti-constitutional thievery? It is also hoped that history will put the names of these 44 scums on public display that never the country in future will put its trust in their morally filthy and besmirched hands.

A Phnom Penh Post’s article titled “Mixed feelings as unelected lawmakers are sworn in to National Assembly” should win the prize for the best title of the year! By the way – and just for fun! – which of the two: “The Forty Robbers” in The Arabian Nights’s Ali Baba or the The Forty Four Scums – all thievery being equal – has a better moral ground? You and your students are the judges!

Your students might also ask why replacing the democratically and officially elected lawmakers with those scums when the state institutions and laws are all there for the country to go forward following the spirit of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords and the ensuing May 1993 elections under the auspices of UNTAC? Well, we did in the past have had multiple conversations on those issues, for example: The Weak and Desperate Strongman, Generation “DEMOCRACY”, 2016: The Year of Mortal Repression, Will the one-man show go on forever, Can They Really Prevent “Color Revolution”, or If He Were Overthrown, What Does That Mean for the Country? If your students put them all together and see them as a forest not as individual trees, everything would come out clearly as to the motives of such “scummery”. To all that, your students could add (1) the paradigm of wealth that the autocracy has amassed through the destruction of the country natural resources, the sell out of those resources to private and external interests, the corruption and nepotism at every level of the administration, and (2) the undeniable image of the shift of the population mind and choice during the 2017 communal elections.

The equation that the autocracy has to solve is how to protect the mass of wealth that it has accumulated since the departure of UNTAC – remember, these guys had barely the minimum necessary to survive between 1979 and 1993 – and to stay in power at the same time. In other words, stay in power at all cost to protect the wealth, and use the wealth to corrupt the institutions in order to protect the power. Power is the drug, and wealth buys drug! Full circle!

Autocracy is fully aware of the popular and electoral hurdles it has to overcome, and the more it displays its bodyguards/police/military fire power to scare the public, the more the public becomes conscientious of its devilish scheme, the more it’s become harder for it to convince them. The audio tapes that were leaked, whether it was voluntary, incidental or accidental, does tell what has been going on inside the autocratic headquarters and what the tapes did not explicitly tell: dissension, unhappiness, lost of trust and lost of national perspectives.

The autocrat breeds the scums to reinforce its farm of absolute power as Mary Astell, an English writer, once said: “The scum of the People are most Tyrannical when they get the Power, and treat their Betters with the greatest Insolence.”

Meanwhile, history of Cambodia continues its course to show that all ingredients are in place for an unexpected turn of events as change of power was always through un-democratic means and force as:
– King Sihanouk and all popular movements fought in many years for the independence of the country in November 1953 from French colonialism;
– Lon Nol Ousted Prince Sihanouk in a coup d’état in 1970;
– Pol Pot ousted Lon Nol in April 1975 through long and bloody internal war;
– With military help from foreign country, the exiled ex-KR-now-autocrat ousted Pol Pot in December 1978;
– Next is your students’ guess!

On Cambodia 64th Anniversary of Independence

My dear Kacvey,

On this date of 9 November 2017, let wish Cambodia a Happy 64th Anniversary of Independence!

For the last 2 years, 2016 and 2015, many questions were raised by your students with the purpose to search for some sort of solutions in order to enable Cambodians to carry Cambodia forward and towards a true and real independence. Your students must feel very sad as Independence that politicians have promised to future generations, theirs included, turn out to be pure illusion and smoke. They have learned of Independence from France, but they have also learned that Cambodia has never been independent from:
– Effect of foreign wars and military conflicts: Vietnam War, war under Lon Nol regime, genocidal war under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, war between Khmer factions from 1979 to 1993;
– Endless trivial, personal and vulgar political wars between Khmer political parties since UNTAC’s, in total absence of philosophy, vision and wisdom for the future of the society and country;
– Violent political domination by the ruling party composed of remnants of ex-Khmer Rouge dressed in suits and ties, and riding in super luxurious cars – instead of black pants/shirts, tyre sandals and red kramars – since January 1979;
– Severe political oppression exercised by the ruling party with crushing blows on freedom of expression, press, opinion and congregation, arrest, jailing and trial of opposition figures on trumped charges, creation of bogus laws with the sole objective of annihilating the democratic opposition and the preservation of its political survival against the tidal waves of popular rejection and rebuff of its policies after more than 30 years in power;
– Free and fair elections where democratic voice and political choice of the people is not fully respected and in flagrant violation with the spirit of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements that was the seed of democracy, freedom, respect of human rights, and respect of law for Cambodia when the international community had the goodwill and determination to end the killing of Cambodians after a multi-year and arduous negotiation process both intra-Cambodians and internationally; and
– Autocracy engineered by the same ruling party since 1997, autocracy that is led by one man and one man only through absolute nepotism and corruption. The whole country looks like a dictatorship under the disguise of fake democracy.

Why does one man shackle Cambodia’s democracy and freedom and colonize the country for his personal ambition and greed for power?
Why does one man subject the independence of Cambodian citizenry and institutions to the submission to his hunger for eternal power or as long as he lives?

The answer is simple and straightforward: the man is no longer sure of himself that he can survive the democratic political battle through ballots; he has outlived his era; his ideas and strategies are outmoded and obsolete; he is “passé” that refuses to acknowledge that “tomorrow” will soon reserve a place for him somewhere else. Therefore, he makes the “Independence” of Cambodia into a state of servility and obedience to his autocratic conceit.

Kacvey, your students’ understanding of the current political situation and their firm conviction and belief that “no man can live forever” are the force of action-oriented willpower that drives and propels Cambodia towards a true Independence.

Wicked and Unprincipled Duo

My dear Kacvey,

Is there a betting parlor in the  City of Tonlé Buon Mouk? You may ask: Why? Well, it looks like betting has become a big hobby in the autocratic tribe, as the father bets on his life and the son on hundred of millions of US dollars on issues occurring in Paris.

Your students must have laughed their head off when they read those stories on conventional or social media. They must also hope that their parents or relatives would spare their meager income not to get involved in those demented schemes set up by wicked and unprincipled people who are legacy of the Khmer Rouge.

So, this is how the father bets on his life​. It sounds good to the outside world as it seems that he considers life is a gamble; or may be he doesn’t know anymore what to do with his political life as the odds are not in his favor at the next elections.
And this is how the son would wager US$ 200 millions. Nobody wants to see the color of that money but the fear of “color revolution” gives the gamblers shiver down their spine.

For us, all bets are off and we’ll be watching whatever the results on the big screen to witness “Live” how the father’s life would be disposed of and how the US$200 millions would be paid off by the son.

It’s fine that they gamble with their own life, fortune and wealth accumulated through corruption and dishonesty; it’s their business and their choice. Their loss will be a big win for Cambodia.

=====
Update:
– Reuters, 8 November 2017: Cambodia PM bets on court dissolving main opposition party

“A Plausible Case” – 莫须有冤狱

My dear Kacvey,

Let take a short break from the dirty and insane politics in the City Tonlé Buon Mouk and look back into the Chinese history during the Song Dynasty (宋代- 960-1279 A.D.)

In the Southern Song (北宋) there was a patriot and a general by the name of Yue Fei (岳飞). Yue Fei was known not only for his military prowess and successes, but also for his high ethical standards. To encourage him, his mother asked him to take off his shirt. She then tattooed four Chinese characters on his back: 尽忠报国 (jing zhong bao guo) “serve the country with the utmost loyalty.” Now able to fulfill both his mother’s wish and his duty to the country, Yue Fei promptly went off to battle. Yue Fei was undefeated in battle and was a national symbol of hope during difficult times.

In 1127, several years before Yue Fei became a general, the Jurchens (Jin 金) invaded northern China, forcing the Song dynasty out of its capital Kaifeng and taking Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗, and Emperor Qinzong 宋钦宗, and hundreds of palace officials prisoners including a minister named Qin Hui 秦桧 and his wife Lady Wang 王氏. This marked the end of the Northern Song dynasty 北宋, and the beginning of the Southern Song dynasty under Emperor Gaozong 宋高宗.

While being prisoner in the Jin court, Qin Hui groveled before Emperor Taizong 金太宗 and succeeded in impressing him with his ability to serve. He got himself appointed to a position in the Jin military staff. Meanwhile, the the Jin Dynasty witnessed with alarm the steady growth of anti-Jin forces in the Southern Song Dynasty and the pro-Song insurgency in the north. Staunchly hawkish generals such as Yue Fei and Han Shizhong posed a particular challenge. It was then decided that Qin Hui would be sent back to the south as a mole in the Song government. In 1130 A.D. Qin Hui and his wife were slipped back into Southern Song territory.

In 1138, Gaozong promoted Qin Hui to be Chief Minister. Then Gaozong and Qin Hui made up their mind to reconcile with the Jin Dynasty and put him in charge of deliberations with the Jin. Yue Fei, Han Shizhong 韩世忠, and a large number of officials at court criticized the peace overtures. Aided by his control of the Censorate, Qin Hui purged his enemies and continued negotiations. In 1141 the Jin and Song agreed to a treaty that designated the Yellow River as border between the two states and recognized Gaozong as a “subject” of the Jin. But because there remained opposition to the treaty in both the courts of the Jin and Song, the treaty never came into effect.

Meanwhile, Qin Hui set to work to engineer Yue Fei’s downfall. Qin Hui wrote a memorial which denounced Yue Fei for his arrogance. He invented out of white cloth the story that yue Fei refused to send his army to relieve defenders of Huaxi when they were under Jin attack.

Yue Fei knew that Qin Hui was out to get him, so he volunteered to resign from his post of deputy Military Affairs Commissioner. Emperor Gaozong readily approved his resignation.

The matter did not stop there. One of the top generals, Zhang Jun 张俊 , once Yue Fei’s superior, became jealous of Yue Fei for his feats on the battlefield. Aware of Zhang Jun’s resentment of Yue Fei’s successes, Qin Hui in collusion with Zhang Jun incited subalterns Wang Gui 王贵 and Wang Jun 王俊 in the Yue Army to falsely accuse another subaltern Zhang Xian 张宪 of intending to take control of Xiangyang 襄阳 in order to mount a mutiny to help Yue Fei wrest back his control over the army. They also falsely accused Yue Fei’s son, Yue Yun 岳云, of writing to Zhang Xian to make secret plans for mutiny.

Based on the false testimony of the traitors Wang Gui and Wang Jun, Qin Hui arrested Zhang Xian and put him in the jail of the Court of Judicial Review, where he was tortured. However, Zhang Xian adamantly refused to confess to the fabricated crime. Soon after, Qin Hui requested Emperor Gaozong to order the arrest of Yue Fei and Yue Yun and put them on trial before the Court of Judicial Review.

When Qin Hui’s people arrived to arrest him, Yue Fei said with a smile: “上有天,下有地,会证明我是无罪的 Heaven and Earth be my witness! I will be vindicated and cleared.”

When Yue Fei and Yue Yun were taken to the Court of Judicial Review, they found a blooded, almost unrecognizable Zhang Xian covered with bruises and injuries sustained during his torture. The sight filled Yue fei with sadness and anger.

The trial judge was Moqi Xie, a Qin Hui political ally. He placed the false testimony of Wang Gui and Wang Jun before Yue Fei and asked in a stern voice: “Hasn’t the government been good to you? Why are you planning a mutiny?”

Yue Fei replied: “上有天, 下有地, 会证明我是无罪的I have done nothing against the government. You are in charge of law and justice. You must not use trumped-up charges to frame officials loyal to the government and country.”

Other officials present also echoed Moqi Xie, insisting that Yue Fei had seditious intentions. Yue Fei understood the futility of arguing with these partisans of Qin Hui’s clique. He said with a deep sigh: “我今天落在奸贼的手里,虽然有一片忠心,也没法申诉了。I’ve fallen into the hands of a bunch of traitorous thugs. There is no point in trying to prove to you my loyalty and patriotism.”

Qin Hui had assigned Vice Censor-in-Chief He Zhu 何铸 to try Yue Fei. When he began questioning Yue Fei, Yue Fei pulled up his shirt without uttering a word and showed He Zhu his bare back. What greeted He Zhu’s eyes were the four deeply tattooed characters: “尽忠报国 Serve the country with the utmost loyalty.” He Zhu was so shaken that he could not go on with the inquiry. He remanded Yue Fei to his cell. After reviewing some more material related to the case, he could find no evidence to support the allegation of Yue Fei’s seditious intent. He truthfully reported his conclusion to Qin Hui.

Sensing He Zhu’s sympathy for Yue Fei, Qin Hui took him off the case and instructed Moqi Xie to continue fabricating charges against Yue Fei. Moqi Xie insisted that Yue Fei had written to Zhang Xian to make plans for a mutiny. Unable to provide any material evidence, they alleged Zhang Xian had destroyed the letters.

Moqi Xie put the three defendants through more torture, but Yue Fei would not give them the satisfaction of a confession. One day, when Moqi Xie tried to force Yue Fei to compose a confession, Yue Fei wrote down these eight characters: “天日眧眧,天日眧眧Heaven be my witness, heaven be my witness.”

After dragging on for two months, the trial still had not produced any conclusion. Everyone in government knew Yue Fei had been framed. However, some who had the courage to petition the Emperor to clear Yue Fei’s name themselves became victims of Qin Hui’s reprisals.

The venerated Han Shizhong went to see Qin Hui, and demanded evidence of Yue Fei’s alleged plans for a mutiny. Qin Hui said in an arrogant and cavalier manner: “岳飞和张宪的信, 虽然没有证据, 但是这件事莫须有。 Although there is no evidence of Yue Fei’s writing to Zhang Xian, one can make a plausible case.”

Han Shizhong said angrily: ” ‘莫须有’ 三个字,怎能叫天下人心服!How can your plausible case convince the country? Han Shizhong’s repeated effort proved fruitless and he resigned as Military Affairs Commissioner.

One day after work, Qin Hui was drinking with his wife Wang by a window. Wang noticed him fiddling with an orange, absent-mindedly gouging the peel with his fingernail. Wang, who was even more ruthless than Qin Hui, understood that Qin Hui was still of two minds about whether to kill Yue Fei immediately. Wang said with a sinister snort: “你这老头儿,好没有决断,要知道缚虎容易放虎难啊!You indecisive coot! It’s easier to tie a tiger down than to set it free.”

Wang’s warning helped make up Qin Hui’s mind. He immediately wrote a note which was secretly delivered to the prison. In a night in January 1142 A.D. the patriotic national hero Yue Fei was murdered. He was only 39. Yue Yun and Zhang Xian suffered the same fate that night.

After Yue Fei’s murder, a prison warden in Lin’an 临安 (today’s Hangzhou 杭州) named Kui Shun 隗顺 secretly buried his remains. Yue Fei’s name was cleared only after the death of Emperor Gaozong, and his remains were moved to Qixia Peak 栖霞岭 for proper burial. A Yue Fei temple was added later east of his tomb. A statue of Yue Fei clad in battle gear now sits in the great hall of the Yue Temple 岳庙. Above the statue hangs an awe-inspiring board inscribed with four characters in Yue Fei’s handwriting: “还我河山 Give back my country.” Opposite the tomb are four cast-iron kneeling figures with their hands tied behind their backs. They are the despised and hated Qin Hui, his wife Wang, Moqi Xie and Zhang Jun that for centuries ordinary Chinese have visited specifically to spit on. This arrangement is designed to reflect popular admiration for a national hero and revulsion for selfish and corrupted officials and traitors.

Peace Agreements Are Not a “Ghost”, Dictators Are

My dear Kacvey,

How low can it gets when a signatory of the “1991 Paris Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict, Agreement concerning the Sovereignty, Independence , Territorial Integrity and Inviolability, Neutrality and National Unity of Cambodia, and Declaration on the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Cambodia” publicly declared that such agreements are dead, whereas it has been the results of those agreements that have made him the autocrat he is now? Martin Luther King Jr., once, said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

According to the Phnom Penh Post of 12 October 2017, the Khmer autocrat stated that “the 1991 Paris Peace Accords was dead in the water.

Well, if the autocrat believes in what he said, the other 18 States signatories should challenge his view for the simple reason that any international agreement or treaty, once it is ratified, binds the responsibility of each State for ever or until such a time the said agreement or treaty is jointly abolished, canceled or terminated. In the case of Cambodia, Cambodia was represented by the Supreme National Council, then presided by Prince Norodom Sihanouk; the Supreme National Council had 12 members, one of which is the current autocrat.

As the Constitution regulates the governance of the country, international agreement or treaty regulates the governance and responsibility between sovereign and independent states. Only banana state lives in its own despotic shell.

Kavey, on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the 1991 Paris Agreements, it’s time for you to pull out of your library shelf the Blue Book Series of the United Nations titled “The United Nations and Cambodia 1991-1995” (ISBN: 92-1-100548-5) in order to get ready for the questions from your students.

The Weak and Desperate Strongman

My dear Kacvey,

By now, you must be extremely sick and tired of the word “strongman” or “strong man” that every media refers to the autocrat that is not only fighting the flood of the monsoon in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk but also has become demoniacally despotic against the opposition and its members, the media and the civil societies. Since Noteworthy News page has chronologically and extensively documented on what has been going on since 2 September 2017, let for our part talk about something else and try to answer some of the questions raised by your students, like why the strongman is weak and so desperate. Oxymoronical, isn’t it?!

Merriam-Webster provides two definitions to the word “strongman”:
– a politician or leader who uses violence or threats;
– a man who performs in a circus and who is very strong.

However, Thesaurus gives three definitions:
– a person who performs remarkable feats of strength, as in a circus;
– a political leader who controls by force; dictator;
– the most powerful or influential person in an organization or business, by reason of skill in the formulation and execution of plans, work, etc.

Merriam-Webster gives the definition of “weak” as: lacking strength, mentally or intellectually deficient, not factually grounded or logically presented, not able to function properly, deficient in the usual or required ingredients, not having or exerting authority or political power.

Merriam-Webster also defines “desperate” as: having lost hope, giving no ground for hope, involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration, suffering extreme need or anxiety, involving extreme danger or possible disaster.

The questionsthat your students have asked could be reformulated as follows:
– What motivates the autocrat to adopt current policy of dictatorial repression towards Cambodian people and institutions?
– How strong is the strongman in ruling Cambodia?

Before going forward, there is an unmovable and solid premise that has to be anchored in one’s mind: The autocrat was a revolutionary communist, a rebel Khmer Krâhâm and a full-fledged member of the genocidal Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary. The fact that he betrayed his movement and sought political refuge and ideological mentorship in a foreign country changes nothing to his conviction and loyalty to what he had learned in his revolutionary youth: power, once acquired, must be preserved at any cost. Once a Khmer Rouge, always a Khmer Rouge.

In Noteworthy News page, your students can find plenty of views, opinions, information, analysis and comments by a plethora of pundits, writers, journalists and reporters to whom appreciation and gratitude are honorably extended because without them our knowledge would be blind of both eyes.

Now back to the above questions of motive and despair.

Kacvey, you may recall that in the past this subject has been touched upon in various letters e.g: Parsing an anguished statement, The CUP is empty, 2016: The Year of Mortal RepressionCan They Really Prevent “Color Revolution”?Generation “DEMOCRACY”If He Were Overthrown, What Does That Mean For The Country?

Fear is a new-born monster that haunts the autocrat since July 2013; that monster became bigger in July 2016. He can’t wipe out from his mind and eye the million of Cambodians flowing in the streets of the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk and also towards Takéo. Never in his lifetime has he ever been greeted similarly; never has he ever been acknowledged and received so warmly and wholeheartedly by the mass of million; never has he ever been solemnly and proudly respected by the mass of million. The ego was shot and wounded by an invisible arrow made of Khmer conscience and awakening, a mass of million of Khmer citizens that he refuses to acknowledge their true love for the country and the democracy that they have just been endowed. The message was clear and visible, but he can’t see or nor read due to optical deficiency, perhaps.

Then came the results of the 2017 communal elections. The “dot” on the “i”. The monster has grown up and played hard, but quietly. The fear has increased in intensity and there is no medical remedy available, even from Singapore! Paid consultants could not provide different mathematical and scientific projections. The trend is now known and unchangeable towards July 2018. The party base is stunt, quiet, shuts their mouth, shrinks and feels embarrassed. Higher up in the party echelon, same attitude of languor and lassitude. At Koh Pich, what he sees is rows and rows of uninterested, cold, incurious and insensible audience. Fear and uncertainty are all over their face as well. Garments workers are now cajoled day after day with promise of every sort including photo-ops of casual lunches “à la Khmère.” But the inconvincibles remain inconvincible; they know the difference between hypocrisy and sincerity, principle and baloney. Dignity is always behind their mask and the smile at the sewing machines.

Fear has been joined by two new companions: panic and despair.

10 months to go and the party is lethargic: no new ideas nor thinkers, no new platform, no perspective nor inspiration, and no road map to the future. Party, assembly, senate, government, justice are the same marionettes executing and marching to the order of the autocrat. On stage, marionettes look happy because they are brainless and manipulated; but when the show is over they are a pile of discarded and valueless puppets. What to do to escape the inevitable? Without power and with their marketable skills below zero, they would be reduced to the status of being ruled and governed; it would be too shameful to accept it. This is where the old Khmer Rouge devilish tactic resurrects and creeps out: dictatorship, repression, jail and guns. To hell with democracy! To hell with rule of law! To hell with respect of human rights and dignity. To hell with freedom of expression or association! To hell with whoever disagrees with me!

Fear in facing the 2018 elections and possibly losing it is the internal weakness of the man who lacks courage and prowess and who feels so insecure to be a real man in the battle of ideas, perspectives, programs and vision for the country and its people, in other words , the battle at the ballot box.
Where is his intestinal fortitude to face the challenge of a democratic, free and fair election? His heart and guts fail.
Does red revolutionary valor melt in the mass of accumulated corrupted wealth that he can’t enjoy in-or-out of the country? Fear of losing that wealth weakens the audacity and brazenness that he once had in poverty and rebellion time.
Does the man at the age of 65 still have the physical and intellectual daringness and intrepidity of his youth to contest the young democracy and the thirst for freedom aspired by new and different generations of Cambodians? No man is made of stone unless he’s a sculpted statue standing alone and decorated with pigeons droppings.
Can he, in his loneliness, picture lines of voters throughout the country dropping their ballot in the box? He can’t anymore when such image of possible reality gives him cold feet. A man or a chicken!?

If fear and despair are not the motive, let him prove that he can enter the electoral arena with all the contestants like in July 2017, that he is a man who is not afraid of another man in front of the ballot box where the people of Cambodia are the judges and arbiters. Mano a mano, with ballots as gloves. Once he’s in the arena, let close the gate and let the monster loose! Ave!

If he won fair and square, he would be able to restore his dignity and his ego recover its pride and vanity. If he lost, history may have nice words towards his legacy.

Not long ago – courtesy of The Phnom Penh reporting – he also publicly and ignominiously said to the garment workers that “the 1991 Paris Peace Accords .. was dead in the water.” He was showing off his ignorance to the local workers, but he has no courage to officially and diplomatically communicate his belief to the 18 State that were signatories to the said Peace Agreements.  A weak strongman talks the talk but never walks the walk. A fool has a big mouth and a very small brain.

It’s not yet too late to make a trajectory adjustment. Failing that, the presumed strongman is not only weak and desperate, but he turns himself into a coward dictator.And as the world has known, every dictator, past and present, on this planet, commands no respect and admiration from the people he rules, and only sycophants and flatterers shower him with false praise and approval. However, once he’s gone, it’s his descendants who have to live in shame and dishonor. Any memory about Pol Pot, his leader, once?

=====
Update:
– Phnom Penh Post, 24 November 2017: PM warns party of complacency in leaked audio
– Asia Times, 27 November 2017: Is Hun Sen secretly insecure?
– BBC News, 4 December 2017: Hun Sen: Cambodia’s prime minister prays for good fortune

Archival Records

My dear Kacvey,

For ease and quick reference that your students and you might need in the future, this letter contains links that speak volume about difference when words were spoken and when the speakers change their attitude. Is this hypocrisy in Khmer politics, or are Khmer politicians are truly hypocritical?

The Washington Post
22 June 1989
Keith B. Richburg: HUN SEN MAKING AN IMPACT

Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine
September 1990
Tarr Chou Meng: A TALK WITH PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN

The Phnom Penh Post
19 May 1995
Matthew Grainger: Hun Sen: the power and the politics
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/hun-sen-power-and-politics

The Economist
10 July 1997
A coup in Cambodia
http://www.economist.com/node/370230

The Phnom Penh Post
12 July 1997
Jason Barber: Democracy from the barrel of a gun

Newsweek (through KI Media site)
21 July 1997
Ron Moreau: A coup in Cambodia

Stratfor Worldview
4 December 1997
Hun Sen Losing Control of Cambodian Countryside

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Cambodia)
18 February 2009
5th Publication: Rule of Law

The Cambodia Daily
12 October 2012
PAUL VRIEZE AND PHANN ANA: Hun Sen Marks 25 Years as Country’s Prime Minister

The Cambodia Daily
14 April 2013
COLIN MEYN: Cambodia’s Long Battle Against Terrorist Groups

Radio Radicale (Italie)
22 juillet 2014
Di Matteo Angioli: Interview with Saumura Tioulong on the deal between the government and the opposition in Cambodia

Nikkei Asian Review
23 October 2014
Sebastian Strangio: In Cambodia, everything is different but nothing has changed

Human Rights Watch
13 January 2015
Cambodia: 30 Years of Hun Sen Violence, Repression
https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/13/cambodia-30-years-hun-sen-violence-repression

Foreign Policy
13 January 2015
SEBASTIAN STRANGIO: The House That Hun Sen Built
The House That Hun Sen Built

The Cambodia Daily
14 January 2015
ALEX WILLEMYNS AND KUCH NAREN: For Hun Sen, 30 Turbulent Years as Prime Minister

Nikkei Asian Review
15 June 2015
SEBASTIAN STRANGIO: Death of ruling party veteran boosts authority of Hun Sen

Foreign Affairs
September/October 2015
Stéphanie Giry: Autopsy of a Cambodian Election – How Hun Sen Rules
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/autopsy-cambodian-election

The Guardian
7 July 2016
Oliver Holmes: ‘Stranglehold’: Hun Sen rules Cambodia and his family own it, says report

Griffith University – Griffith Asia Institute
25 Augst 2016
Lucy West: Rule of law in Cambodia – reflections from the field

The Phnom Penh Post
23 June 2017
Q&A: Chris Kelly on A Cambodian Spring

ifex.org
20 September 2017
Cambodia: a hostile environment for rights defenders
https://ifex.org/cambodia/noimpunity-cambodia-profile/

The New York Times
12 December 2017
BRIAN CUDDY: Was It Legal for the U.S. to Bomb Cambodia?

This letter will be updated as researched records have become available.

Euripides’s Cyclops

My dear Kacvey,

To divert your mind a little bit from the political misery completely fabricated by the autocracy to murder for the nth time Cambodia’s democracy, freedom and human rights since the beginning of September, here is the story from the play “Cyclops” as written by Euripides.

Cyclops was gigantic, one-eyed monster (a single eye in the middle of his forehead) and considered cannibalistic in that he included humans in his diet, led a lawless life, possessing neither social manners nor fear for the gods. Cyclops was also the subject of stories by both Homer (Book Nine of “Odyssey”) and Virgil (Book Three of “The Aeneid”); in both stories, cyclops was named Polyphemus.

In Euripides’s Cyclops, Mount Aetna in the island of Sicily was the setting of the play. At the time the play was written and performed, Sicily was considered home to a sophisticated Hellenistic culture, but it also was seen as a place that contained Greek and non-Greek. In this play it was portrayed as a barbaric place that was hostile to both man’s laws and religion.

Here is the story line extracted from Wikipedia:
“It begins with an opening monologue by Silenus, who tells the tale of how he and his satyrs, who are his off-spring and followers, have been victimized by the giant cyclops (named Polyphemus in the Odyssey). The satyrs are now enslaved to work for the cyclops and shepherd his flock. The satyrs are prevented from their usual life as playful and lusty faun-like spirits of the woods, who sport and play while protected by Bacchus or Dionysus. Odysseus, who has lost his way on the voyage home from the Trojan War, arrives with his hungry sailors. They meet Silenus and offer to trade wine for food. Being a servant of Dionysus, Silenus cannot resist obtaining the wine despite the fact that the food is not his to trade. The Cyclops soon arrives and Silenus is quick to accuse Odysseus of stealing the food, swearing to many gods and the Satyrs’ lives (who are standing right beside him) that he is telling the truth. His son, a younger and more modern Satyr, tries to tell the truth to the Cyclops in an attempt to help Odysseus.

“Odysseus has a lively debate with the cyclops; he argues against his brutality, and in favor of morality, laws, justice, and hospitality. The cyclops debates in support of personal advantage and pleasure. The cyclops considers the idea of social justice a fraud created by the weak as protection against the mighty. The cyclops claims that the only thing worthy of worship is wealth. After this argument, the Cyclops brings Odysseus and his crew inside his cave and eats some of them. Odysseus manages to sneak out and is stunned by what he has witnessed. He hatches a scheme to get the Cyclops drunk and burn out his eye with a giant poker after the giant has passed out from inebriation.

“The Cyclops and Silenus drink together, with Silenus attempting to hog the wineskin for himself. When the Cyclops is drunk, he says he is seeing gods and begins to call Silenus Ganymede (the beautiful prince Zeus made his immortal cup bearer). The Cyclops then steals Silenus away into his cave, with the implication that he is about do something sexual to him. Odysseus decides to execute the next phase of his plan. The Satyrs initially offer to help, but later become afraid and offer a variety of absurd excuses when the time for action actually comes. The annoyed Odysseus gets his crew to help instead, and they burn out the Cyclops’ eye.

“He had told the Cyclops earlier that his name was ‘Noman’ or ‘Nobody’ (Greek outis or mētis), so when the Cyclops yells out who was responsible for blinding him, it sounds like he is saying “No man blinded me”. In addition to this pun, there is a less easily translated joke based on the fact that the form of “no man” (mētis) is identical to the word for cleverness or art. The Satyrs have some fun with him over it. Odysseus makes the mistake, however, of blurting out his true name as a result of his big ego. Although he successfully makes his escape, the rest of the troubles Odysseus faces on his voyage home are related to this act, as he then faces the wrath of Poseidon, the father of the Cyclops.”

Kacvey, by the way and once again, many thanks for your endless input in our twitter account!

On the bank of Sésane River

My dear Kacvey,

On the bank of Sésane River, while the people were having a nap, two neighboring friends met and were chatting nonchalantly and watching the water flowing and overflowing massively during the raining season.

Stôang: Do you miss your family?
Léav: Yeah, quite a bit. Since April, the 30 other soldiers and I are not allowed to take leave.
Stôang: I heard from the radio that your government has ordered all of you to withdraw immediately.
Léav: To withdraw is as easy as to come here and occupy this patch of your land. We can come in and go out anytime, you guys leave the border open all the times.
Stôang: Why did you come then?
Léav: Look, when you go out, do you lock your door or leave it open?
Stôang: I always lock the door, and hope to get back home before the burglar!
Léav: You’re smart. But at the borders your guys leave the door open.
Stôang: That’s very embarrassing: 30 soldiers could just walk in and occupy a patch of land without any resistance or opposition.
Léav: I’m just a soldier and follow my chief’s order. But, my guys and I, we know our national duties and understand our chief’s policy.
Stôang: How long did you plan to stay then?
Léav: As long as it takes until it becomes part of our land.
Stôang: Isn’t it then an invasion or a violation of our territorial sovereignty?
Léav: You can use those buzz words as long as you wish, but you have to know that sovereignty must be protected in order for it to be respected and not to be violated. Without actual and effective protection, sovereignty is purely naked.
Stôang: But you can’t just walk in and settle in and down?
Léav: Why not? You don’t lift your little finger to stop us! Your absence is a tacit invitation.
Stôang: And then, what do you plan to do on that patch of land?
LéaLéav: Personally, I don’t know because it’s not my domain; but I’ve seen guys in construction business coming around with their stuff.
Stôang: That’s why the guy from my capital flew in to see your guy at your capital and with an ultimatum in his hand.
Léav: You’re right! “Ultimatum,” after 5 months! Jello ultimatum, it is. Where has he been? Sleeping? Sick in Lion City?
Stôang: Well, communications are slow between the border and the city.
Léav: Look, between the two of us, who is in the position of strength: 30 soldiers and I, or ultimatum man?
Stôang: Guess it’s you; invader imposes his will.
Léav: The “invaded” flew to my capital to deliver an ultimatum five months after the occupation! Is there any joke more insane than this one?
Stôang: Don’t be too sarcastic.
Léav: Sorry, got carried away with all that nonsense.
Stôang: Nonsense? That many?
Léav: For example: in my capital, since the US left in 1973, we’ve had different PMs, and our leadership is renewed all the time. Look what’s going on in yours: same guy for 33 years. “Nonsense” is that we know in advance every move he’s going to make, even in the middle of the night!
Stôang: You spy!
Léav: No, it’s psychology 101! What can a man sitting on power for 33 years could invent as new tricks?!
Stôang: What else?
Léav: Oh, You move the troops from 500kms away to challenge us here with the ultimatum. Press, TV, Facebook, gossip, everybody knows it, sees it, records it. Did he read “Sunzi: The art of warfare”【孙子兵法】?
Stôang: Hope he has, he who makes war for his whole life from KR time to today.
Léav: My guess is he might have read it, but understands nada. He can fool you, but definitely can’t fool us.
Stôang: Wondering how much longer we could let ourselves be fooled by him. So, you must have other plans of invasion.
Léav: Don’t know. My boss decides. But with such an easiness that 30 soldiers could cross, occupy and settle, I don’t want to imagine how far down South could 30 multiplied by x times could go.
Stôang: Did you consult Noï before coming here?
Léav: The only thing I can tell you is that Noï is pissed off with the ultimatum man’s coziness with Northern Capital.
Stôang: Why?
Léav: There is a biblical saying: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Stôang: Are you not Buddhist?
Léav: I’m Budhhist, but I also read and learn other religions.
Stôang: Where’s that from?
Léav: Matthew 6:24
Stôang: Anything Asian for that matter?
Léav: The Chinese say: 一仆难事二主 (yī pú nán shì èr zhu). Same meaning: No man can serve two masters.
Stôang: OK, time is up. Have a safe return home.
Léav: Likewise! Oh, by the way, stop “bolting the stable door after the horse has been stolen.”