My dear Kacvey, what a question about nepotism!

Even if you asked the same question to 10 Khmers at Psar O’Russey, the majority would say: “So what! Big deal! I have to take care of my family and friends. If I don’t, who would? Time was tough and still is.”

The rest would say: “They are all corrupted. Get rid of them.”

But all 10 of them would together and in a synchronized voice also say to you: “If you are “there”, you would do the same for your family and friends, wouldn’t you!”

Nepotism is almost as old as the word itself that started all the way back to the Roman epoch when people of power nominated their nephews (nepote in latin) or relatives to different positions in the hierarchy, be it religious or state. Hence, the term “nepotism” and its applications, throughout the duration of past and contemporary times, could be encountered in almost every part of this world. Cambodia is no exception.

Here is an illustration based on the history of China. In 265 AD, after ascending the throne, Sima Yan (司马炎) established the Jin dynasty and was know as Emperor Wu (晋武帝). In the belief that empowered blood relations would support the central government, the House of the Simas would be solidly entrenched in power for generations to come, he accordingly created 27 principalities to be governed by 27 princes of his clan. Each of these principalities had its own army and its prince had the power to appoint his own civil and military officials. But after the death of Emperor Wu in 290 AD, times was not easy for the Jin dynasty during the next 16 years, as out of the 27 princes, 8 of them (Sima Ling 司马亮, Sima Wei 司马r玮 , Sima Lun 司马伦, Sima Jiong 司马, Sima Ying 司马颖, Sima Yong 司马颙, Sima Yi 司马乂 and Sima Yue 司马越) at one time or another jostled for power and were embroiled in the battle for the throne. That period was known as “the War of the Eight Princes” (八王之乱)

In Cambodia, it started with ….

(To be continued in “The nephews – Part II”)