My dear Kacvey,
The City of Tonlé Buon Mouk’s Books Club must be recently going through a very animated ambiance with the newly release of the book by Sebastian Strangio. Would you think about getting a copy at the local market for your library or would you rather wish to have a copy sent to you by courier? If your friends wish to know more about the book, here is its ISBN number: 978-0-300-19072-4, and published by Yale University Press. BTW, this is a link where the author talks about his book with a local foreign language newspaper:
Let us leave the review of the book to the book critics, but let us see for ourselves what could be done for the book to reach the Khmer audience who does not read Shakespeare’s language but would be more than willing to learn about what foreigners write about their country, good or bad or whatever.
Having passed the 1st page of chapter 1, something ignited in the glow of imagination: this book, like many others written by Western writers, was in English and published in the West. The intended readership seems to be anglophone, Khmer expatriates included. In other instances, it could be francophone as well. Nothing wrong with that, because Westerners have always been interested in Cambodia, whatever the subject is. But Kacvey, have you ever been curious to ask yourself whether foreign writers ever wanted to intend their books to be read by the real Khmer people who speaks and read only the Khmer language?
That being said, could we then openly ask: How does one expect Khmer people to widen their horizon, if the ideas developed in foreign language never reach their eyesight? Have these writers ever wondered what type of foreign books Khmer students read?
You, Kacvey, and other Khmer expatriates can aptly talk about “idea”, “democracy” and “change” because we have had the advantage of education in foreign lands and languages. Wouldn’t Khmers who speak and read only the Khmer language be aspired to be exposed to other non-Khmer thinking, study, opinion, concept, philosophy and so on, similar to the Khmer expatriates? Why the Khmers who only speak and read the Khmer language are forever condemned to different level of knowledge and spirit from the Khmer expatriates? How can we expect a fair and equitable dialog and a profound understanding among Khmers, when the playing field is strongly unfavorable to one side?
Foreign writers, this is not your fault, nor about you, please! You already did your part, and wonderfully. Now is the turn for the Khmers to find a way to convert and channel what you have already written – and not without your consent indeed – into the Khmer language.
The intellectual capacity of Khmers who only speak and read the Khmer language need intellectual foods from foreign lands for their development and expansion. The 20th century had seen many Asian countries translating all kinds of Western books and materials into their own languages. It is not too late for the Khmer Lands to do the same.
If you, Kacvey, asked why KhmerPAC doesn’t use Khmer language to set example, here are 2 answers:
1. Let the Khmers who speak and read English translate the idea/opinion to their parents and relatives; so doing, the discussions at dinner time would become less dull and monotonous; and
2. To quote Juvenal: “It is difficult not to write satire.”