29 April 2018?

My dear Kacvey,

Just a small guessing game for fun’s sake: If Goddess of Chnam Chkèr were consulted by Nostradamus on the erratic political situation in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk, what would the Goddess foresee that would happen on 29 April 2018, exactly 3 months to 29 July 2018?

A gypsy palm reader would venture to prophesy that the key to unlock the imbroglio is in the hands of Polyphemus, unless the latter has already thrown it away into the shoal of South China Sea.

Greeting the Chaul Chnam Khmer, Year of the Dog

My dear Kacvey,

The Year of the Rooster ended dramatically for Cambodia, and what a long list of outstanding and disastrous items that the Rooster has to hand over to the Dog:
– democracy was murdered;
– constitution was trampled and rule of law massacred;
– freedom was shackled;
– opposition was not only outlawed but annihilated;
– opponents were ruthlessly and arbitrarily threatened, accused, arrested, jailed or forced to exile;
– press, radio stations and NGOs were forced to close;
– corruption was aggressively multiplied;
– nepotism reached a level higher than the Everest;
– leadership irresponsibility and unaccountability was exponentially accrued;
– Kg Som, one among many other places, has become a Chinese town for mainland Chinese gamblers;
– debts towards Vietnam, China and Japan became epidemically rampant;
– 1991 Paris Peace Accords were thrashed, and
– the ex-KR has crowned himself the sole and uncontested autocrat by putting all state institutions in his hands or under his feet.

Nevertheless, there was one particular moment when the Rooster shared the joy of the people who, at the June 2017 commune elections, voted heavily in favor of change and to reject the old order of the ex-KR autocracy. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived joy and hope as the autocrat, sensing the wave of popular rejection and dislike of his corrupt regime, reverted to old political playbook of neo-Stalinism that is associated with terror and totalitarian rule.

Farewell Rooster, and Thanks for being there!

Welcome Chnam Thméy, the Year of the Dog, and if, as traditional saying goes, dog is indeed a man’s best friend, the questions for the next 365 days would then be:
– whose best friend the Dog will be? the Khmer people or the ex-KR autocrat?
– would the Dog be a leashed one to protect the corrupt villa or would it be a K9 helping to sniff out drug, firearm or explosive at the airport?
– would the Dog be a stray or vagabond dog that is infested with vermin, roaming the garbage fields and could be savagely caught for ugly gastronomy purposes?
– would the Dog be the one that could be a serious contender to win the National Dog Show? or
– would the Dog be a puppy fed with Purina or a bitch living off human excrement?

Whatever breed the Dog will turn to be, Cambodia warmly welcomes you as we are bound to live together during your 1-year stint. Contemporaneously and in unison, we will work to change Cambodia to be a truly democratic state where rule of law and respect of human rights and freedom are paramount.

My dear Kacvey, may the good spirit of the Chnam Châr be the bright lodestar guiding your endeavor throughout.

A nihonto for the tyrant

My dear Kacvey,

Three flat news reports came out from the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk after the visit by the Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Kono Taro 河野 太郎  on Sunday 8 April 2018.

Reuters wired an article: Japan, Cambodia sign $90 million aid agreement, Australian abc NEWS reported: Japan’s foreign minister seeks free and fair Cambodia polls, and Japanese NHK World had a short and soporific article: Kono urges Hun Sen to hold fair election.

You may wonder why did Mr. Kono Taro bothered to fly from Narita down to Pochentong just to repeat the same sitting-on-the-fence or watching-China-move stand like his Ambassador Hidehisa Horinouchi or the advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Kentaro SONOURA have so far done, i.e. urging Cambodia to hold free and fair elections. It seems that the Japanese definition of “free and fair elections in Cambodia” is not different from the one given by the ex-KR autocrat, albeit diametrically contrary to the philosophical and traditional democracy, respect of rule of law and intellectual integrity in the land of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Furthermore, Japan keeps on saying “Japan will keep monitoring the situation.” Then, how much longer Japan keeps on doing that if after 60 years of diplomatic relationship, Japan has not succeeded to find out how Cambodia has navigated under 33 years of the ex-KR rule? Maybe Japanese electronics giants could provide a bigger central government database under a free-interest loan agreement to monitor Cambodia’s political pulse!

One could just wonder how foreign affairs conducted by the land of the Rising Sun toward Cambodia have become in the current rise of those of the Middle Kingdom.

Kacvey, should Khmer people thank Japan for the gift of an imaginary nihonto 日本刀 to the ex-KR autocrat to slaughter the remnants of Khmer democracy?

Kirivong

Mon cher Kacvey,

En flanant l’imaginaire sur la route vers Kirivong en passant par Kôh Thom et Angkor Boréi, une question surgit: “L’aveugle qui lit un audiobook se concentre-t-il mieux pour comprendre l’histoire racontée que la lecture aveugle, par un voyant, qui n’enrichit rien mais défertilise tout au contraire?”

Faites nous savoir votre réflection si un jour vour preniez le même chemin.

 

The cat among the pigeons

My dear Kacvey,

Let set the cat among the pigeons to provoke reflections among your students.

The hypothetical issues are:
(1) What would happen if the autocrat decided to report the July 2018 legislative elections ad infinitum or sine die?
(2) In that case, what would be the opposition’s position?
(3) Except for China, Japan, Vietnam and ASEAN, what would be the world’s reactions and actions?

You may wish adding more hypothesis to stimulate your students’ interests and curiosity. Please compile their answers, put them in a bottle and toss it into the Mekong water at the confluent of Tonlé Buon Mouk.

Empty Words or Coward Deeds?

My dear Kacvey,

Do you recall this statement by the ទីងមោង​ before he left for Sydney for its burning and that was reported by RFA on 14 March 2018 under the title លោក ហ៊ុន សែន ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​វៀតណាម​បង្ហាញ​ភាព​ស្មោះត្រង់​ករណី​លោក សម រង្ស៊ី:  “លោក​អះអាង​ថា ក្នុង​កិច្ចប្រជុំ​អាស៊ាន​-​អូស្ត្រាលី នៅ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​១៧ ខែ​មីនា​ខាង​មុខ​នេះ លោក​នឹង​សួរ​មេដឹកនាំ​វៀតណាម​ឲ្យ​ពន្យល់​រឿង​ប្រមុខ​ការ​ទូត​វៀតណាម​លួច​ជួប​ចរចា​គ្នា​ជាមួយ​លោក សម រង្ស៊ី។ ជាងនេះទៅទៀត លោក ហ៊ុន សែន ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​វៀតណាម បង្ហាញ​កំណត់ហេតុ​នៃ​ជំនួប​នោះ​ទៀត​ផង៖ «ខ្ញុំ​នឹង​សួរ​មេដឹកនាំ​លើ​រឿង​នេះ​តើ​កាល​ហ្នឹង​និយាយ​គ្នា​ពី​អី ខ្ញុំ​គ្រាន់តែ​ចង់​ដឹង​ថា តើ​ពេល​ហ្នឹង​គេ​និយាយ​ពី​អី បើ​មិត្ត​វៀតណាម​ស្មោះត្រង់​ជាមួយ​ខ្ញុំ តើ​ពេល​លោក​ហ្នឹង (លោក សម រង្ស៊ីទៅ​ទស្សនៈ​នៅ​ហាណូយ និង​នៅ​តៃនិញ និយាយ​អី​ខ្លះ»”

The Summit ASEAN-Australia being already over, why Séiha or The Tamarind Tree or Frakesh News have been so quiet on that promise? Would the ទីងមោង​ vassal have had chickened out in front of his lord? When standing or sitting next to his Vietnamese master, would ទីងមោង​’s mouth and brain have had been frozen out? Would ទីងមោង​ have had been secretly admonished and warned?

BTW ទីងមោង​ talked a lot with his hypocrite Khmer sycophants on Friday evening of 16 March 2018 but not a word of his has come out from the forum with other leaders, also autocratic and repressive or otherwise. Perhaps, when ទីងមោង​ talks, nobody listen, if he knows how to talk sense in world arena!

Kacvey, please let us know should something come out after the ទីងមោង​ would have returned to the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk, and hope the Singaporean doctors would advise him to go through a burn therapy.

 

Why are the people …

My dear Kacvey,

In Chapter 72 of Dao De Jing 道德经,七十二章, Laozi 老子 said:
“When the people fear no longer your power,
“It is a sign that a greater power is coming.”
“民不畏威,则大畏至。”

“Interfere not lightly with their dwelling,
“Nor lay heavy burden upon their livelihood.”
“无狎其所居, 无厌其所生。”

“Only when you cease to weary them,
“They will cease to be wearied of you.”
“夫唯不厌,是以不厌。”

Furthermore, in Chapter 75 七十五章, Laozi added:
“Why are the people hard to manage?
“Because those above them are fussy and have private ends to serve.
“That is why they are hard to manage.”
“民之难治,以其上之有为,是以难治。”

Also in Chapter 31 三十一章 Laozi seemed to tell warmongers and hegemons that:
“As weapons are instruments of evil,
“They are not properly a gentleman’s instruments;
“Only on necessity will he resort to them.
“For peace and quiet are dearest to his heart,
“And to him even a victory is no cause for rejoicing.

“To rejoice over a victory is to rejoice over the slaughter of men!
“Hence a man rejoices over the slaughter of men cannot expect to thrive in the world of men.”
“兵者不祥之器,非君子之器,不得已而用之,恬淡为上。
“勝而不美。
“而美之者。
”是乐杀人者,不可以得志于停下矣。”

Will 2018 Be the Year of CHANGE?

My dear Kacvey,

Let just run through some of the years when radical CHANGES took place in Khmer history for your students’ young memory:

1953: Cambodia became independent from France’s protectorate.

1970: Coup d’etat and the establishment of the Khmer Republic.

1975: Fall of the Khmer Republic and the establishment of the genocidal Democratic Kampuchea.

1979: Fall of the Democratic Kampuchea and the establishment of People’s Republic of Kampuchea supported by Vietnam. Between 1989 and 1993, People’s Republic of Kampuchea changed its name to the pro-Hanoi State of Cambodia. In 1993, after UNTAC, State of Cambodia changed its name to Kingdom of Cambodia.

Whereas 2016 was a year of mortal repression, 2017 was even worst when Democracy and Freedom were savagely murdered by a combined legislative-executive-judiciary force that was authored, orchestrated and meticulously choreographed by the autocrat. The fatal date was 16 November 2017, Cambodia’s democracy and freedom’s Ides of March.

From 1953 to 2017, 4 names are notorious in the history and tragedy of Cambodia: Prince Sihanouk, Lon Nol, Pol Pot and the current so-called weak and selfish strongman. None of them came to power through the free will or the rights to choose of the Khmer people; all of them came to power through violence, bloodshed, war and collaboration with foreigners. The first 3 stuck to the seat of power until they were ousted by the next one who happened to be within their circle. Do your students know where they now are?

If past is prologue, and as Karl Marx, once, said: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”, what will the fate of the 4th one be in 2018? In other words, will 2018 be a turning point for Cambodia in the 21st century?

Martin Luther King, Jr. warned all of us that “we are not makers of history; we are made by history.”

Power Must Be Returned to the People

My dear Kacvey,

A conversation between two fictitious Khmer was overheard on the bank of the Mékong near Préah Ang Dangkoeur shrine in a Blood Moon night:

Khè Séiha: So, you did it on 16 November 2017, huh!
Dèk Chréss: I did what?
Khè Séiha: Come on! You arrested him on the night of September on trumped treason charge, locked him securely up in Trapèang Phlong, dissolved his party, and took the 55 seats and distributed them to the scums.
Dèk Chréss: Easy job, I just snap my fingers and all the stooges move like crazy. And when I scream a little bit all the 55 run away like rabbits seeing a flashlight.
Khè Séiha: Now, you’ve become Caesar!
Dèk Chréss: Not only Caesar, but all the dictators in the contemporary world: I’m the longest living tyrant, and still counting.
Khè Séiha: You’re going higher and higher and you’re not afraid of being dizzy and falling?
Dèk Chréss: I’m on power drug prescription, and don’t need antidote. The sky is the limit.
Khè Séiha: You don’t care of what had happened to guys like Bhutto, Saddam, Gaddafi … even Mugabe or Saleh?
Dèk Chréss: Look, I pay a very high price for Khmer and foreign bodyguards to protect me. If there is a hole in the wall, so be it!
Khè Séiha: Le Duan, Le Duc Tho and Le Duc Anh put “the 2 December 1978 gang in Snuol” including you in power for more than 30 years ago, don’t you now have enough of it? Moreover, all three of them have long gone, and been successively replaced by others. You’re getting old and physically weak by the day, you know or don’t you? Bodyguards have to carry you up the stairs of Angkor Wat terrace, you couldn’t even sit straight, you almost tripped with the Bangladesh prime minister, you’re puffer and puffer, slower and slower, you can’t barely turn your hip, you’re losing hair, you have black spots on your face and sagging eyelid, your incoherent and sometimes self-contradictory speech! Why hanging on?
Dèk Chréss: You’re talking nonsense! I know I’m doing good. Singaporean doctors give me clean sheet of health.
Khè Séiha: You know, doctors treat the sick and do not feel the pain or shame for you. Your pain is not theirs and they don’t give a shit for your shame. You pay them to tell the world that you’re OK, right or not? And you know damn well that you don’t feel good inside yourself!
Dèk Chréss: I’ve already told you I’m OK. And I prayed big at Angkor Wat, you know! My health is nothing compared with my ambition.
Khè Séiha: You pray after committing unforgivable sins against the people? You think that Preah Buddha has no divine sense of justice? You’re committing more sins by involving Buddha in your scheme. This is where things are getting tricky: you’ve been going through many periods of time: KR with Pol Pot, deserting him to go to East of the border to be under its protection and influence, fighting Pol Pot’s remnants, UNTAC, putting Samdach Euv back on the throne, smashing his son’s party, winning some elections, and now this: crashing the opposition and putting Samdach Euv’s son back under your armpits. No man can manage politics through different eras of CHANGE of global thinking and globalization. What more do you want for yourself?
Dèk Chréss: I have not finished the job that I began: 1) I’m selfish, and I can’t accept that Khmer do not submit to me. 2) You talked earlier about the 3 “Le”; I’m bonded to them as long as I live, and I don’t even want to think what would happen if I “un-bond” myself from them. 3) What I’ve made to feed my family and my power is not self-sustaining.
Khè Séiha: Then, you’re no different from a pig; the more a pig eats and is fed, the more it wants to eat, until the farmer puts it in a truck to the slaughterhouse.
Dèk Chréss: I was a KR, and later a commie in the Eastern country. As such, I know the rules of the game that were taught to me. The rest is self-taught and self-surviving.
Khè Séiha: Self-surviving at the top of the political scale?
Dèk Chréss: That’s right.
Khè Séiha: At the expense of others?
Dèk Chréss: Of course! I’m the big beast ruling this political jungle, ain’t I?!
Khè Séiha: You surely are, but the rules of the game have changed since the 1991 Paris Peace Accords and UNTAC.
Dèk Chréss: Why invoking that Peace Accords after 25 years? They officialized and baptized me then. And I rule!
Khè Séiha: You do rule, but there are new rules that you have to abide by.
Dèk Chréss: I already did during earlier elections, but the 2013 elections, Kem Ley’s funerals and the 2017 elections gave me goose bumps and send me unexpected and unintended messages.
Khè Séiha: You’re clever enough, why don’t you learn from it and re-draw your philosophical or moral lessons?
Dèk Chréss: I’ve spent it all during these 30 years and nothing new could be invented anymore.
Khè Séiha: Isn’t this an omen that your time and era are up for change?
Dèk Chréss: True, but as I said earlier I have not finished what I began.
Khè Séiha: So, you persist to go on, don’t you?
Dèk Chréss: I have no choice. They are bigger than me, they rule me and the rules from the Peace Accords and UNTAC do not work for me anymore.
Khè Séiha: So, you change the rules to fit your renewed determination.
Dèk Chréss: Yes, changing the rules and applying severe repression to get rid of the opposition once and for all. I have to survive.
Khè Séiha: Did you expect that once the opposition is dissolved, things will be back to normal like before?
Dèk Chréss: No I didn’t. I miscalculated one thing: mixing up the media and civil societies with the opposition. Before, I only had the opposition to go against, but now I have 3 opponents combined together: opposition, media and civil societies. What makes it worst for me is that this combined force has the support of the international community against which I’m ALONE.
Khè Séiha: Alone?
Dèk Chréss: Yes, alone. Alone. Alone. Not even with C, J and VN; they keep on saying they either “don’t interfere with my internal affairs” or support “stability” but nothing comes out of their capitals louder and stronger than Washington and Brussels have said and put into effect so far… Disheartening!
Khè Séiha: Are they your real friends or just politically opportunistic and self-centered friends?
Dèk Chréss: I’m trying to figure it out.
Khè Séiha: Why so? Strange?
Dèk Chréss: My mistake is that on the one hand the “issues of islands” in the South China Sea are no longer in the agenda of the world or ASEAN, and on the other J and VN are pissed off with me as they saw that I sold my entire soul to defend C in every place and instance on “issue of islands” even against J and VN positions.
Khè Séiha: In other words, you’re fucked, domestically and internationally.
Dèk Chréss: More or less. That’s why I become more and more brutal with the opposition in order to show C, J and VN that I am in control no matter how insane and crazy options I have taken. They know that I’m in a jam, and what they’ve been doing is to hope and wait that I could come up with some kind of “Khmer” arrangements that would alleviate internal political tension that I have personally created to preserve my status.
Khè Séiha: Are you saying that C, J and VN are not going to challenge Washington and Brussels?
Dèk Chréss: They won’t, because, to them, Cambodia’s internal issue is not worth fighting for.
Khè Séiha: Are you then considering yourself as nothing more than a cheap puppet?
Dèk Chréss: Oh, oh, no such strong words, please. Politics is always a gamble. If you play, you have to play it hard. Nothing is given free.
Khè Séiha: Sorry, I’m a little emotional as I see what you’ve been doing is totally irrational and insane.
Dèk Chréss: You might be right, but this is the game I chose to play.
Khè Séiha: To play and not winning?
Dèk Chréss: No matter, I slog it on. Too late to change direction?
Khè Séiha: Really? Who said?
Dèk Chréss: Nobody has said anything to me about “changing direction” because they know that I’m not a person who eats my own words. I don’t want to become a “chkè!”
Khè Séiha: A chkè? You must be joking! Has any Khmer politician turned into a chkè if she/he doesn’t keep her/his promise or words?
Dèk Chréss: The pressure is extraordinarily heavy on me now as I am always running behind the rapid flow of events.
Khè Séiha: How about your Frakesh News and Tamarind Tree? Are they doing anything to help you going forward or are they just stupid sycophants that you like to surround you?
Dèk Chréss: They are my mouth piece in disguise, therefore they contribute nothing to my thinking. They bark when I throw a bone to them before I open the door.
Khè Séiha: Look like you know the type of quagmire you’re in, but yet you remain stubborn.
Dèk Chréss: I’m thinking.
Khè Séiha: You know you can’t go on behaving like this, don’t you?
Dèk Chréss: Yes I do, but to change course is not what I’m born to do. I’m born to be what I want to be, on my own terms, not on other people’s terms.
Khè Séiha: Generally, working people retire from their work after more or less 30 years. Why do Khmer leaders never think about that option, but rather hanging on to it like a baby monkey hanging on to the belly of its mother?
Dèk Chréss: Samdach Euv and I are the 2 persons who have these 3 common features: low education, never working as employees, and top leaders! Retirement is therefore not in our language.
Khè Séiha: So, you must then remember what happened on 18 March 1970?
Dèk Chréss: Ha! Ha! 18 March 1970 made me for who I am on 9 January 1979 onward!
Khè Séiha: But since 9 January 1979 till now, 29 years have passed: different time, different events, different thinking, different technological era, different people everywhere; it makes you a “passé.”
Dèk Chréss: Being a “passé” in Cambodia is a licence to future…
Khè Séiha: … on which you have no control.
Dèk Chréss: True, I don’t have control over time, but I’m determined to have absolute control and power over people.
Khè Séiha: Are you driving towards a cliff? You took the power from the people and you still continue to oppress them?
Dèk Chréss: Choice, I don’t have. I’ll break them until they are broken.
Khè Séiha: You’re becoming more KR than the KR you’ve been. If so, you’re slowly opening the ECCC’s door to welcome you as case 008 or 009 or 010 or whatever. Hope you don’t forget that a case against you has already been registered at the ICC at The Hague.
Dèk Chréss: 
Don’t talk misfortune, please.
Khè Séiha
: You miserably create your own misfortune. If you break them, you will never repair or mend them. Sometime broken china vase could be restored, but the man who can restore the trust and confidence of the people after having broken them to pieces hasn’t been born yet.
Dèk Chréss: What’s the alternative?
Khè Séiha: Are you thinking about reviewing the whole enchilada?
Dèk Chréss: I’m listening.
Khè Séiha: You’re still have the power, but the power that you took from the people after July 2017 elections must be returned to its legitimate owner.
Dèk Chréss: How can I? Abrogating those laws? Releasing the opposition from Trapèang Phlong?
Khè Séiha: That’s right. If those laws were created by men of yours, they could be dismantled by men of yours. If the opposition was arrested and jailed by men of yours, he could be released by men of yours. Men create, men destroy, men recreate.
Dèk Chréss: It sounds simple but I can’t do it.
Khè Séiha: Why not? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Dèk Chréss: It will involve a hell lot of things and my guys will be wondering what’s going on?
Khè Séiha: Since when you worry about those guys who jump when you tell them to jump?! If you could organize everything to reach this point, who tells you that you can’t undo those things?
Dèk Chréss: You have a point.
Khè Séiha: Moreover, you engineer and orchestrate everything, and your name is nowhere to be seen on those papers, why not be a little gentle to history about yourself and your family?
Dèk Chréss: I can feel the quiet resistance and the air of defiance in the eyes of the garment workers and my FB no longer carries weight that it once did.
Khè Séiha: You mean credibility and popularity?
Dèk Chréss: Yeah, both of them plus mockery and daily virulent challenges.
Khè Séiha: Critical time calls for critical thinking and analysis; you are standing on the highest point of your fortune wheel, and it spells peril for you.
Dèk Chréss: It’s past midnight; time to go.
Khè Séiha: We talked earlier about Caesar. Don’t forget: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. In other words, render unto the people the power that is people’s. Good night!

A Man of Violence

My dear Kacvey,

This is just a quick note to hope that you and your students have certainly read this article from The Phnom Penh Post: Hun Sen dares EU to impose sanctions. A big Thank is addressed to both reporters Ben Sokhean and Leonie Kijewski.

The article has attracted a lot of comments, domestic and international, from which your students could learn and ponder.

This letter is just an additional sentence of seven Chinese characters from Laozi (老子) for insertion into the thinking process.

In Chapter 42 of Dao De Jing (道德经,四十二章), Laozi said: “A man of violence will come to a violent end – 强梁者不得其死“.